Sally Becker started her garden 13 years ago. When she bought her house in August 1998, there were no flowers. She had a pond put in and then added several beds. She eventually removed the pond and reshaped the garden. She added a patio this year and landscaped around it.
She has planted, divided and replanted every plant in her Lexington garden, she said.
Her garden is a hodgepodge of all the flowers she likes.
Here are Becker's gardening tips:
1. Bunnies like lilies — at least mine do. When I first started putting lilies in, one spring I realized that the lilies were nibbled to the ground. I'm pretty sure it's the bunnies, as I have quite a few running around my yard. To keep them from nibbling my plants down, I started cutting off the bottoms of milk cartons and old plastic plant pots and putting them over the new lily plants in the spring. I use staking sticks to keep them where they belong if the wind gets a bit wild. Then, when the lilies are tall enough, I take them off, and now I have beautiful flowers every year.
2. Rooting hydrangeas. I didn't know you could start hydrangea plants, but you can. A friend of my mom's showed me how to lay a limb down on the ground and leave it for a year or two so it would start roots. Then when it's ready to go, take a good shovel and separate the limb from the rest of the hydrangea plant, and move it to a new spot. Be warned though. Hydrangeas grow really slowly, so it will take years for a big full new plant to be there. I have done it three or four times and have nice plants as a result, but it took a while.
3. Cutting back plants. This sounds simple and logical, but I think a lot of people are afraid to do it. When plants have had their due time and start to look bad, it's time to cut them. I just did this before my July 4 party. My spiderworts were looking really tall and falling all over the place. They were still flowering, but they just were too tall and gangly, and they were getting black spots on their leaves. Cutting back makes everything else look better, and it gives other plants that are just coming out more sun and more water and just more space to take up to look beautiful.
It's the same thing with hostas. Cut the spent flowers back and enjoy the beautiful leaves of the plant. Note on hostas: the leaves are really good to cut and use in floral bouquets.
Along these lines, it's OK to cut back leaves on your plants. I do a lot of this to allow people to walk through the path and to allow other flowers to have room to grow and expand. I cut back my orange lilies a lot to allow other plants to get some sun and some water. And besides, it looks better and more kept.
4. Divide and multiply. I divide my orange lilies and spread them around or give them to anyone who wants some starts. It makes the plant healthier if you do this. I've done this with the daisies, phlox, daylilies and the hostas.
5. Things will change, so go with the flow. So many times I have thought I had the best spot to plant something, and for a while it was. But as plants grow, trees get bigger, your neighbor's trees get bigger and plants don't grow as they should. You find that you are going to have to move them. I've moved plants that needed more sun to sunnier spots and plants that needed more shade to shadier spots.
6. This tip is important for new gardeners. There are plants that are invasive either by extending underground, or by reseeding. Be aware of this when you plant, or you'll find yourself in a bit of a mess. Take black-eyed Susans, for example. I love them, but because they seed everywhere, I am pulling them up because they want to take over. On the other hand, I have planted white loosestrife, and it expands underground. But I've kept it and love it because it is the best cutting plant, and you can use both the leaves and the flower, and they stay lovely for a long time when cut.
Another plant I loved was the Mexican primrose I saw in other people's yards. Now I'm trying to get it out of my garden.