Friday, March 28, 2008

Learn All About It

My last post regarding my new garden coaching services brought an interesting comment from fellow garden blogger, Aiyana, at Water When Dry; she mentions a certificate program in her area for garden coaches. That got me thinking about the large number of educational programs available here in the Denver area for all kinds of gardening (although not garden coaching, yet!). Many of them are geared towards those who don’t hold a professional degree in horticulture or landscape architecture but are actively working in the green industry. Other programs are aimed at serious hobbyists who have a passion for gardening, or are for those who really just want to get a clue about how to take care of their home landscapes.

For those in the latter categories it can create a wonderful sense of achievement and confidence to complete the Master Gardener program (available through the local Cooperative Extension offices of most land grant universities in the US) or Denver Botanic Gardens’ Rocky Mountain Gardening Certificate Program. Many garden centers and nurseries also offer great one-time, one-topic classes for a quick hit of information.

Programs for professionals are also abundant. Front Range Community College offers an associate degree in Urban Horticulture. The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado has the Certified Landscape Contractor (CLT) program that has some real teeth. It combines rigorous testing in both classroom and field in areas of construction, irrigation and maintenance. (In fact, the program is so good that they sell their training manuals to other landscape groups across the country.) The Garden Centers of Colorado and the Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association also have a certificate program geared for plant growers and retail sales professionals.

What is your favorite way to learn about gardening? Classes? Magazines? The web?

What are some of the educational resources in your community? I'd love to share them here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New! Garden Coaching

Spring has sprung! I always think of spring as a time for new beginnings, so today seems like the ideal opportunity to announce my new garden coaching service.

Coaching is the new buzz word in the gardening world that is defined and interpreted in different ways by different people. For my purposes, garden coaching is simply a great umbrella term that encompasses the new hands-on educational services that I am now offering to my clients along with my consultations and landscape designs. Whereas during a design consultation I will look, listen, and advise, a garden coaching session will be more activity oriented.

Here are examples of the learning activities that could be explored in a garden coaching session:

Personal Shopping Guide – retail suppliers only
· Plants
· Decorative boulders
· Hardscape materials
· Pots
· Trellises, arbors, fountains, etc
· Mulch; organic or rock
· Soil amendments

Plan Realization:
· Planting bed layout
· Plant siting (placement)

Planting Instruction:
· Specific techniques for specific plants

Maintenance Techniques:
· Perennial flower care; deadheading and dividing
· Spring and fall clean-up
· Pruning for shrubs
· Fall tree wrapping

My hope is that garden coaching will be the “show and tell” experience that will give my clients the confidence to move forward and implement their own landscape and garden improvements.

After all, happy gardeners make for happy gardens!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Come Visit Me!

You’ll have to be quick! Today through Sunday I’ll be at Echter’s garden center in Arvada, CO for their annual Echxpo. What’s an Echxpo? It’s a mini trade show with booths featuring garden product vendors and service businesses (like me). Plant societies, clubs and educational groups are also represented. Everyone is there to visit, share and learn about plants, gardening, design, etc. It’s great fun and a perfect way to start a successful gardening season---and it’s free!

Visit Echter’s website for more details.

See you there…

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

Today was the culmination of 18 months of work; I sent my book manuscript and photographs off to the publisher. Look for Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants later this year. It takes about 6-10 months for the editing, design and printing. I’m hoping that my draft is so perfect (yeah, right!) that all I will have left to do is review the production proof and say, “Yes, that’s lovely, print away!” For now I will just enjoy a sense of accomplishment--- and relief...

Lake and pergola design by Ken Ball, ASLA

Lake construction and photo by Jim Chilvers

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ready, Set...Go!

Spring doesn’t officially arrive until later this month, but in my mind it’s always today, March 1st , when spring begins. Now we can really get busy with activities in the garden!

Your top priority, if you haven’t done so already, is to prune your flowering shrubs. This is your last chance to do any major renewal or rejuvenation pruning; both require cutting branches back all the way to the ground. Go here for more information on this type of pruning, and here for additional related topics (scroll down to the pruning heading).

Cut back your ornamental grasses. If you wait too long to cut them back you run the danger of cutting off the tops off the new growth too, and they will remain misshapen for the entire season.

Cut back your perennials. If you are a lazy fall gardener or just enjoy the winter texture of your dried perennials (like me), now is the time to cut back and remove all of that dead foliage. However, it’s still too early to rake off the beds. Leave some mulch and/or leaf debris around the base of the plants to keep them insulated from the snow that is sure to come over the next several weeks.

Hardscape construction can be accomplished now too. Anything from installing new edging to building decks, patios, retaining walls, fences, etc are best done now before planting season arrives.

It feels good to be active outdoors now and to know that this spring clean-up is just the prelude to the wonderful gardening season to come.