Okay, so it’s January and I am dreaming of working in my garden…only 3 more months of snow, and hopefully I can stop dreaming and start digging!

While I am not an overly experienced gardener, I really enjoy getting my hands into the soil, chosing my plants in the spring, and watching as these small plants turn into large beautiful bushes of coloured foliage and flowers. My Mother-in-Law has the greenest thumb going, and I am trying to learn from her expertise. My garden is still small, and early in it’s stages of maturity, but it’s pretty, and here’s why:

10. Move plants around from season to season in order to improve your garden’s appearance and growing conditions. Sometimes, it takes seeing all of the plants at their prime bloom times in order to be able to plan the best arrangement, so don’t be afraid to move plants around, divide perennials and experiment with unique and interesting colour combinations.

9. Borrow ideas for your garden plan from the inspiration you get from beautiful gardens in books, magazines, neighbours gardens…etc. Afterall, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!

8. Try to choose flowers that bloom throughout the season, so that there is a splash of colour somewhere in your garden from early spring, through until late fall.

7. Planting some trees and shrubs in the garden not only adds to the look of the garden, it also provides shaded areas for plants that like a bit less sun. Greenery also stays that way all winter, and provides food and shelter for small animals and birds.

6. Plant according to the conditions favoured by particular plants. In other words, do not plant sun-loving plants in full shade and vice-versa. Remember that your plants will thrive in the conditions they are intended to be grown in.

5. Always purchase quality plants. Beware of plants that have heavily chewed leaves, brown spots, and or look sparse and unhealthy. Established greenhouses and garden centres are always a best bet.

4. Make sure to control weeds, so that the plants you actually want in your garden have a chance to grow. Failure to weed causes the plants undue stress, in competing with the weeds for water, nutrients and light.

3. Be sure to include an interesting variety of plants, shapes, sizes and colours in order to make your garden aesthetically pleasing. Theme gardens, of specific colour combinations can also be beautiful. Equally gorgeous are gardens that look tidy and planned, not just thrown together haphazardly.

2. Make sure to water your plants properly. Water only when necessary, and when you do, be sure to give your plants a generous soaking, as frequent and shallow waterings will only promote poor root structure. Time your watering sessions in the early morning or early evenings. Watering during the heat of the day will cause too much water loss from evaporation.

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch! This point cannot be made strongly enough! There are so many reasons why it is a must in every garden. First, it helps to control weeds by blocking the light that they need to grow and take over. Second, it makes the soil rich in organic matter as it decomposes. Third, it helps the soil to retain needed moisture, and four, it just looks so darn nice!

Last summer, my neighbours son was admiring my garden, and I asked him what it was he liked so much about it. I wondered which flower he would point to, and instead he said “I like the way that fancy brown stuff makes it all so pretty” He was talking about the newly spread mulch!!! So there you have it, words of wisdom from a five-year-old. Happy gardening!