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Hatton: Planning for change

Staff Writer
Amarillo Globe-News
Bob Hatton

I hope that by this time in August most of you are enjoying the fruits of your spring labors and, unlike me, are taking a break from laboring in the heat. But fall is approaching and because fall has the best weather, it comes with increased activity such as planting of perennials, shrubs, and trees as well as spring blooming bulbs. Hence, now is a good time to critically review your landscape for changes you may want to make.

This time of the summer can be difficult for having color in our gardens. There are many perennials that bloom in the mid to late summer, but unless gardeners have annuals, they often find themselves without a lot of color until fall. Look for areas that are dark or all green for instance. It is easy to visualize where you need color as well as what color might look the best in certain spots.

And since you are looking at your gardens for color, why not also think in terms of scent? Scented gardens add an extra dimension to gardening and to the pleasures of a garden. View your garden with an eye to paths, seating areas, or other places where you might be drawn. These may be good areas for scented flowers. Keep in mind our ever-present winds. Try to find sheltered places where scents can build up and be recognized without having to put your nose on the flower.

Also consider plants that are nice to brush against. For example, planting rosemary close enough to a path or walk that it must be touched to pass by, adds sensory experience to the walk through the garden.

Don’t forget sounds in the garden. The many kinds of grasses available can produce differing sounds. Grasses also have the advantage of providing structure throughout all seasons as well as generally being low in water usage. Their many textures are also different from most other plants we grow.

Water produces soothing sounds. You don’t have to have a stream or pond to have water. There are many fountains of all sizes and types that can to provide this for you.

Many people, especially children, like to feel plants. So, consider touch as you look for plants. Whether soft like lamb’s ears or rough and sandpapery like Lantana, plants have different and often interesting tactile qualities.

Finally, consider size and shapes. Are most of your areas filled with plants that are about the same height? Are their mixtures of plants that are short, tall, round, loosely branched, or highly pruned into a shape? I’ve noticed that several changes I’ve made the last couple of years have left a large area in one bed without anything over about three feet tall. I am now considering several plants that will grow to between five and seven feet tall to add to that area.

When thinking of your garden design, think about variety in size and shape as well as color and gardening for all the senses.