In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
May, 2013
Regional Report

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Problem-free Goldsturm rudbeckia sports its gold blossoms all summer long.

Simple Garden Design

The familiar refrain "Keep it simple" is a good maxim for garden design. A simple, uncluttered design is not only visually appealing and restful to look at, it is also usually much easier to maintain.

Here's a cautionary tale. One local gardener got fascinated with a host of different plants and filled her backyard garden border behind the swimming pool with them. They grew well but the location was a problem. Each browned leaf and faded flower stood out and occupied her mind. Trying to relax by the pool, all she could see were the imperfections in her garden. Eventually she replaced the garden with four big palm trees and a neat ground cover. It's a simpler and easier design to care for -- and less guilt-inducing as she spends her time swimming rather than weeding and clipping.

The Gift to Be Simple
To simplify your garden design, both visually and from a maintenance standpoint, think "less" and "more" -- less diversity of plant material and more individual specimens of the plants you choose. Start by choosing plants that are adapted to the conditions in your landscape, such as the type of soil and amount of sunlight, so that plants will thrive without coddling. Build the bones of your landscape with well-placed trees and shrubs whose mature size will be appropriate for the space allotted them.This way you won't be out doing battle with your pruners on a regular basis. Then fill in with broad swaths of a few kinds of herbaceous plants for a unified look.

Grow Low Maintenance Plants
Another way to design simply is to grow easy-care plants, such as Goldsturm rudbeckia (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'). This perennial flower flowers prolifically from May to August in our region, shrugging off the heat and humidity of summer. Its cheerful gold, daisy-like, 3-4 inch blossoms with a prominent black central cone are borne on 24-30 inch tall plants that don't need staking. Not fussy about soil type, it does best in full sun and is somewhat drought tolerant once it's established. And it's generally free from insect and disease problems. Divide plants every few years to keep them vigorous; you'll have plenty of easy-care plants to share with friends.


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