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Garden Planning

Planning a garden can be an exciting time. It is a time to dream of flowerbeds humming with bees, the croak of frogs at night, the scent of foliage as you brush past or after rain. There are as many garden variations as there are gardeners. And a garden can be as odd or as interesting as you wish. Who is to say that a garden wall covered in crockery mosaics, or using old washing machine or farming equipment as decorator items is wrong? Or the dedicated fruit and vegetable gardener with everything enclosed by wire mesh to keep out the birds? Or a hundred garden gnomes? If it gives you and your family pleasure, while also helping the environment, then that is a good thing.

Planning a garden means different things to different people, and it all depends on how you view the world. Are you a visual person, and meticulous with details? Perhaps sketching up a plan for your yard will be the way for you. More of a freeform thinker? The traditional mapping out a garden bed with the hose might work for you. No time and little interest in gardening? Maybe an expert can be called in to help you. Random plant buyer and non planner? Even knowing what will work in your garden can help you steer your impulses towards things that will work in the yard.

It doesn't really matter what sort of person you are if you don’t have a good idea of what you are dealing with for your yard. For novice and experienced gardeners alike the basics are important. Even an expert can get your garden wrong if you yourself do not have some idea of what you need.

The end of Summer is also a good time to look around the neighbourhood and see what is growing well, or what just isn’t working. For new suburbs you can get a feel for what might work in your yard, and there is probably a good chance of other houses similar to yours as well. For an established house and garden, a walk around is also helpful. Are they cursing weeds down the road or lopping a nuisance tree? For both old and new houses seeing how others have done it is helpful- both in terms of what to do, but also what not to do. A visit to local botanical gardens such as Cranbourne or Melbourne will also help, and staff are usually happy to help. Cranbourne Botanic Gardens have volunteer experienced plant and garden people that do guided tours, and these are well worth it to help form a picture of what you like and don’t like.

The planning time is also a time to assess what you have. If it is an established garden, it might be worth waiting for a season or two and see what comes up. This is important in say Spring, when most things look their best. It would be a shame to dig up something that is quite attractive or a prolific fruit bearer by accident. The established garden is also likely to have bulbs planted at some stage, and Spring will be the time most of them show. Even if you don’t like them, possibly someone else might, so you could dig them up and donate to friends or schools or fetes. Many natives and non natives have only one show of flowers, so if you don’t know what it is, wait for Spring at least.  Asking a neighbour is also useful, they may have admired your rare orchids that spring up, or a magpie that nests in a gum tree. Even a rental house may offer some surprises in a grevillea bush that flowers all year with no care at all. Many of these elements are worth preserving.

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