Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

September 2012

Just spent a delightful weekend right next-door in Nebraska exploring horticultural destinations large and small. Included on my itinerary were stops at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, the impressive National Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, and the historic Sunken Gardens in Lincoln. Built in 1930, the Sunken Gardens was a Depression-era project for unemployed men to earn wages to support their families. Waiting to show me around was Steven J. Nosal, the horticulturist in charge of this 1.5-acre gem. That’s the two of us in the garden, below.

Lincoln’s “Rock Garden” (as it was originally called) reflected the popular 1930s trend for rock gardening in general. Rocks were used for the garden’s skeleton. Structures like water fountains and retaining walls at different heights to create terraced levels. The original design aimed to evoke mountain scenery with rocks on the terraced walls creating the garden’s edge. But the plantings were executed by the city’s horticultural department and concentrates more on cheerful floral displays than on the use of alpine plants. The centerpiece of the garden was a cascading waterfall surrounding Rebecca at the Well, a sculpture of a woman holding a water jug by Ellis Burman. There were also two reflecting pools.

After nearly 73 years without a major renovation, the Sunken Gardens was overhauled in 2004. While maintaining many design elements of the original garden, several new features were added, making the garden easier to maintain and access. A new parking lot, public restrooms, underground sprinklers, renovated lily ponds, retaining walls and new walkways were built. More than 100 trees and 1,000 shrubs were added as well as 18,000 square feet of additional space for annual flowers, which are showcased in a theme that changes from year to year. Steven and his group of dedicated volunteers have created a show-stopper of a garden definitely worthy of your next botanical road trip.

Did you know that it’s National Indoor Plant Week? We love any opportunity to celebrate gardening! There are lots of reasons to grow plants indoors, especially in your home or office.

University studies have shown that we’re more productive and less stressed when there are plants around. That little plant on your desk is a connection to nature, especially if you can’t easily see a window to look outdoors.

In addition to making us feel better psychologically, plants help us physically. Plants indoors do a marvelous job of filtering out pollutants, especially from super-energy-efficient buildings where air is circulated all day and there’s not much fresh air coming in from outside.

Do you have plants? If not, now’s a GREAT time to add some to your life. Not sure which are best? Take our fun quiz at http://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/houseplant-finder/.

Here in Iowa, it’s been a hot, dry summer. Unless we watered our gardens regularly, a lot of our plants suffered. So far, it’s turning out to be a dry autumn, too, so don’t put away the water hoses just yet.

Keeping your favorite plants well watered this fall (especially evergreens such as: rhododendrons, pines, spruces, firs, hollies, andromedas, and camellias) is the best thing you can do to get them through winter so they look fantastic next spring.

Try to keep the soil evenly moist, like a well-wrung sponge. And, like watering in summer, it’s still best to water deeply and less frequently than to give your plants a little water every day. Additionally, it’s still helpful to prevent plant diseases by doing most of your watering before noon.

One question I hear often is: How long should you keep watering. That’s an easy one! Keep watering up until ground starts to freeze. Plant roots continue to grow and develop even after deciduous trees lose their leaves.

Watering now can do a lot to help keep your plants healthy next spring!

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