planner, Kathy Bratton. She recommends a similar plan like the one she designed at the Rice Township Municipal building. Daffodils for some spring color, a mixture of Blue Salvia and Orange Day Lilies for summer and Black Eyed Susans for late summer blooming, along with Mums for some fall color. One also has the option of using annuals mixed in for a burst of long lasting summer blooms to compliment the changing perennials. All the women recommend using bulbs, seedlings or transplants rather than seeds, especially for the novice gardener.
Many perennials, like Hostas, Day Lilies and Daisies are hardy and are recommended for beginners. It is also not too late to purchase and plant these types of perennials now, says Nancy, who works at a local garden center.
“Some perennials are pretty and hardy and come in lots of different colors” explains Nancy. “They are tried and true, and you can find some good buys now.”
The group also recommends that when planning a landscape, one pays close attention to the mature size of each plant, how far apart they should be spaced, whether they prefer moist or dry soil and the amount of sunlight they prefer. One should keep in mind that the size of the plant they see now is not the same they will see in three years once the plant is fully established. Always plan your garden by imagining what it will look like in three years, after the “sleep, creep, leap”.
“Observe the grounds and where the sun is throughout the day and plan according to how many hours of direct sunlight that space receives,” advises club member Therese Smith “A shade plant requires less than four hours, a plant labeled part sun requires four to six hours and a full sun plant should be in an area that receives at least six to eight hours of sunshine a day.”
Once you have your plants and space prepared, the Garden Club recommends using a time release fertilizer during planting to help establish the root system. Weed barriers like Preen or decorative mulch also help keep weeds in check so they do not choke out the plant roots at such a vulnerable stage. Regular watering is also key, at least for the first year. Once weeds are kept in check initially and the plant has time to grow, these types of hardy perennials require little care.
“Once they are established, they are easy,” adds Roberta Robbins. “You can just let nature take it from there and then enjoy your landscape, big or small.”
Of course, there is always the occasional curveball from Mother Nature in the form of weather and insects. Weather, whether too rainy or too dry, can affect the blooms and even some rates of survival. Gypsy moths, especially this year, as well as other insects like bores, can affect shade trees, further altering one’s flower plot. Japanese Beetles, slugs and other insects can also be problematic and the women suggest calling your local garden center or looking online for safe ways to keep the damaging bugs at bay.
“Its all about knowledge with gardening,” notes Roberta. “We all have a different expertise and there are sources everywhere. We all share what we know.”
This compiled knowledge is something that the club seeks to share with anyone who has an interest, even if they’ve never touched a plant in their lives. The women on the planning committee are in charge of booking speakers, organizing trips and coming up with creative projects for members. Members have various levels of expertise, from Master Gardeners with certificates from the Penn State Extension School, to those who have a lifetime of gardening experience. Some are beekeepers, some know a great deal about butterflies, but they all share a love of plants and nature.
“We all learn through trial and error,” says Therese. “There’s something for everyone; You take what works best for your own situation,. We get our hands dirty and we have fun.”
“People say ‘oh I don’t have a green thumb but people shouldn’t get so quickly discouraged. If it dies three times, plant it four times. So much is trial and error,” continues Therese.
“And don’t be afraid to try and seek advice,” adds Nancy. “Everybody is very good at sharing”
The Garden Club is always seeking new members and the women stress that you don’t have to be a gardener to join the group. To find out what they are up to, you can find them on facebook by searching Mountain Top Garden Club or emailing them at mtgardenclub@ gmail.com.Their next meeting will be Tuesday August 9th at 6:30 at Rice Township Municipal Building and member Roseann Nardone will present “Personality in the Garden” with plants and fun accessories to add to your garden.