Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - September 7, 2012

Garden Tips

Hints to women: many ways to increase flowers

by Jack McKinnon

Women work more and harder than anybody. They work physically, emotionally and socially and they do it simultaneously. No wonder they make such good gardeners.

This month's tips will be for women. But if you don't happen to qualify, you can read them too and possibly learn something about both gardening and women. Here are the tips:

1. Often it is quite frustrating to be so fond of flowers and to have to work so hard to get a few good ones for the table. There are several ways to increase the number of flowers in one's life. Getting somebody else to buy them for you is less difficult than growing them. It is important to work on those that give flowers with subtle and not-so-subtle hints and not give up. With time and patience your flower supply will increase.

2. Plant more species of flowering plants than you think you will need. This will seem daunting at first but as you go out to harvest your bouquets you will thank me. Variety is not only valuable in having many colors to choose from but to have more actual flowers in the different seasons of the year. Remember that different flowers bloom at different times of the year. Growing plants that bloom in the fall as well as the spring and summer secures those harvest bouquets.

3. If you have a small garden, use other people's. This is actually quite easy. By giving plants as presents for all the occasions of one's life and then offering to help with the care of these plants, you increase your gardening property exponentially. This also saves on your water bill, because your friends have to water the plants and all you have to do is to go over and fertilize, cultivate and prune (giving you flowers) on a regular maintenance schedule. What a great gift for a friend and yourself.

4. Grow a variety of texture and filler plants. These make for wonderful arrangement material. Some good examples are ferns, oak leaf hydrangeas, ornamental grasses and pretty much anything with variegated foliage.

5. Invite friends to garden with you. This takes care of three important parts of every woman's life: getting help doing all the work, socializing and having someone to talk to about how you are feeling. Sometimes this works best with a gardening partner and other times with a garden club. Of course if you are hosting a guest to your garden it is really nice to have iced tea, small sandwiches and a fruit salad to share when you are finished.

6. Getting men to listen (and hear) what your needs are in the garden is really important. We all need help sometimes and asking for help (I can't climb trees anymore) is humbling but important. Bribery works well for friends. Don't call it bribery though (it doesn't work as well); call it a trade. One example is minestrone soup. I had a friend that would give me a quart of minestrone soup once every third or fourth visit to her garden. I would do anything for her.

7. Growing flowers for an event or special occasion is really fun and clearly shows how intelligent you are even though we know that already. One good example was provided a close friend who would gather flowers for drying each season, tie them into bundles and hang them from the ceiling in the downstairs room. Whenever she needed a bouquet for a party or as a gift it was simple to go downstairs with a pair of pruning shears and some ribbon.

8. Show imagination as well as hard work in your gardening. Learn some design skills. Most of the landscape designers and architects I know are women. This can be done in your spare time (if you have any) and will show your artistic flair off to the world.

9. Just as you spend time in front of the mirror in the morning, have a walk through your garden once a day. It will serve the same purpose by providing self care, detail, style and a feminine touch you will appreciate.

10. Give yourself time to visit gardens, garden tours, shows and nurseries with a good friend. There is nothing better than walking through someone else's garden and enjoying the show. There are always new things to see, ideas to steal (I mean borrow) and of course there is always lunch after and plenty to talk about.

Good gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by email at jack.mckinnon.hmb@gmail.com. Visit his website at www.jackthegardencoach.com.

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