Get Ready to Dig In!
Find Your Green Thumb
Photograph of flower by istock photo.com © Vishwanath Bhat
Kerry Ann Mendez’ gardens are budding proof that anyone can nurture a green thumb. In Kerry’s case, make that a very green thumb. The prolific gardening author, whose specialties include perennials and shade gardens, started digging in the dirt for pragmatic reasons, to make some extra cash working part-time in a nursery. Despite having no experience, she parlayed that gig into a still-blooming career.
Her books include The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists and Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens. Her gardening calling cards are breathtaking gardens at her Saratoga Springs, New York, home, images of which got lots of appreciative oohs and ahs when Kerry came to town as a special guest of the Stamford Garden Club (SGC). Strongly committed to organic gardening practices, Kerry shared some of her of-the-moment favorite things with SGC members and guests.
Resist impulse buying on blooming things. “Save some money for bulbs to plant later.” Protect new bulbs from pesky predators with chicken grit. The tough chewing material fed to chickens (usually made of ground oyster shells) thwarts chipmunks, deer and other nosy predators from snatching bulbs from the ground. “It feels awful against their noses,” she explains.
Catalogs are an excellent resource for unusual breeds of flowers that can add interest to your garden beds. Even the best nurseries stock up on tried-and-true plants because they purchase inventory to meet demand, she explains. Some new florals to try: Painted daisies (in Robinson’s Red) and Frosty Fire carnations (they love the hot sun.) Also try Lenten roses (in Raspberry Ripple).
Create color from leaves. Seek out flowering plants with foliage that also changes color through the season. One to try: Dicentra (also known as gold bleeding heart) which Kerry loves for its pop-of-color blooms and leaves “that stay really beautiful through fall.” This sustainable gardener swears by Neptune’s Harvest, a cold-pressed blend of fish and seaweed. You can order this protein fertilizer online.