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Nonstop Garden

by Guest Poster on May 12, 2010

in Design, Gardening

“Nonstop gardens are better gardens because they require less maintenance, provide continual beauty, allow more creativity, and encourage diversity.”

So say authors Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner in their forthcoming book, The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs. This book is almost ready make its debut — so we thought we’d post about it now! Our intern, the lovely Katy Drawhorn, will give you a quick peek.

Katy says:

So, what exactly does nonstop mean? Here it refers to an integrated garden (including trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals, tropicals, edibles, and vines) with year-round interest.

To many of us a nonstop garden is a wonderful idea in theory, but in practice we really don’t know where to begin. Should we just start planting? How do we develop a plan or strategy? Cohen and Benner answer these question as they guide the reader in decisions ranging from space definition to plant selection to ornamentation.

According to the authors, the first step you should take in planning your garden is to get to know your site. They encourage you to think of your garden in terms of rooms. By breaking your garden up into smaller sections the task at hand will seem less daunting. Much like in a house, the intended function of each room should dictate the space.

Another key component to the plan is to work with your site and not against it. For example, I love avocados and pineapples. My dream garden would contain these trees side by side. Due to the climate here in Portland neither tree would survive in my garden. This is why we must plant flowers and plants that grow well in our climate and with our soil conditions. Cohen and Benner advise: “For the least amount of frustration, stick with plants that are proven to your hardiness zone and annual moisture rate.” A plant that isn’t amenable to your growing region is going to take a bit more care — be aware before you buy!

Cohen and Benner present a Recipe for Success for mixed borders, which they compare to making a soup. In this recipe, trees and shrubs are your foundation, or “broth.” The flavorful ingredients are perennials, bulbs, annuals, and tropicals. And the final seasonings?  Vines, vegetables, and herbs. Put it all together, and you have a beautiful garden that you can enjoy from January to December, and back to January again.

Trees and shrubs—30%

Perennials—30%

Annuals and tropicals—20%

Bulbs—10%

vines—5%

veggies and herbs—5%

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