The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

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Learn to love your landscape

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

Every time I look out the window I dream of green and then gorge myself on tantalizing images of flowers and fruits in magazines and catalogs. Glorious gardens immersed in the picture perfect light of dawn shine from garden magazines. Of course out of frame is the butterfly bush that was crushed by the basketball, as the kids were playing one-on-one. Cropped and coiffured images are pleasant dreams, but hardly the reality of gardening. Maybe it's time for an adjusted aesthetic in our quest for garden perfection.

Our life coaches may come to us in the shape of a dog. One of my gardening acquaintances was blessed with a big lab named Opie. On hot summer days Opie loved to dig in her garden and plop his big beefy lab body in the cool moist soil. She tried putting a big rock in Opie's digging spot. Undaunted Opie just found another spot to dig. No matter how hard she tried she couldn't keep Opie from digging a summer loafing spot. She finally decided to recognize Opie's landscaping aesthetic. She painted a beautifully adorned sign that heralded Opie's contribution. Rather than explain to every garden visitor why she had a big hole in her garden, the "Opie's Garden" sign was now a source of light-hearted banter about the joys of gardening. Instead of constantly fighting for perfection, she and Opie created a blissful alternative with her adjusted aesthetic.

First of all, learn to love your yard; even those quirky shady areas, wet spots and areas where the tree roots stick out. Certainly some changes can be made short of a bulldozer, but resolve now to quit fighting what is there. Work with what you have. Remember in this ball game, Mother Nature bats last.

Remember gardens evolve. They will not look exactly like you planned. As you plant you will make changes and Mother Nature will make changes for you. Each year it will look different whether you want it to or not. Some things will do well and others will languish. If you expect your garden to be a constant like your living room with each item carefully placed and selected for color and size, then your garden will constantly frustrate you. Just imagine the couch getting bigger every year as it overtakes the end table.

Maintenance can make or break a garden. You may have a beautiful design with great plant selection, but it will quickly fall apart if it isn't maintained. Actually another word for maintenance is therapy, but no one wants to be in the doctor's office all day. Be realistic about the time you have for maintenance. Perhaps several people in the household can mow the lawn; however, you may be the only one willing and able to work in the flower garden. Perhaps a small flower garden done well may be much more rewarding.

Your garden may not be perfect, but it may be perfect for you.

This is the perfect time of year to discover your garden perfection by participating in garden programs.

Vermilion County Master Gardener Garden Day Saturday, March 14, 2015 from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. at CrossRoads Christian Church 3613 N. Vermilion, Danville, IL.

Learn about new plants, get your garden questions answered by Master Gardeners and enjoy great food and plenty of shopping. Register today. Call our UI Extension office in Danville at 217-442-8615 for more information.

Join UI Extension Master Gardeners for "Edible Colorful Landscape" on Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Champaign County Extension office at 801 N. Country Fair Drive in Champaign. UI Extension Horticulture Specialist Jim Schmidt will share ideas for incorporating fruits and vegetables into a landscape design. Program is free and open to the public, but registration is required. PH: 217-333-7672.

Rooting for Change – UI Extension Gardener's Day 2015 will be held Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Allerton Park & Retreat Center (Allerton Mansion) Attract birds, pollinators, fairies, photographers and other gardeners with a morning of fun and informative classes. Register by calling 217-762-2191 or online at

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