The garden of your love

A lovely home can look even lovelier provided you know how to garden your space

BEAUTIFY SURROUNDINGS

RAIZ AHMED LONE

In our valley most of us enjoy the luxury of having land around our houses. So why not to beautify your surroundings and enjoy the greatest excitement of owing a garden. Whenever you find some difficulty in establishing or maintaining your garden, don't hesitate to consult the landscape experts, as their consultation is needed to do landscaping successfully on a big scale.
Sowing seeds and plants are beginnings, ideas and possibilities. Some of them at least will bear fruit. Growing and taking care of a garden is an essential expression of what makes us human – the capacity to nurture, as a plant is demanding but it never comes to you, you have to go to it. It may be crying for water or food or it may be feeling too hot or cold. Therefore, no gardening can be done sitting in an easy chair, reading library books on gardening, you have to come out and be with the plants.
The art and craft of gardening is based on very sound rules. The perfect garden does not just happen but is built up by careful observation of certain rules. In our valley most people give little time and thought to the design of the garden as compared to the time, amount and thought spent on the designing and furnishing of the house. The design of garden is no less important than the house. Everything from lawn making to selection of plants needs to be planned in detail.
Lawn making: A lawn is an inseparable part and heart of a good home garden. It provides a natural setting for the growing of flowers and shrubs like a canvas for painting a picture. An early morning walk on dew covered lawn carpet refreshes you. That is the joy which no million dollar carpet of the world can offer. But there is perhaps no branch of the gardening so simple and yet so neglected in our valley as the proper construction and maintenance of the grass lawns. It is so common to see otherwise really good gardens spoiled by weedy, patchy, irregular lawn growth, when adherence to a few simple rules in planting an maintenance would ensure a pleasant and good, well- covered weed free lawn surface.
Choose a place where you get sunlight throughout the day. If not at least six hours sunlight is essential. Also this place should not get waterlogged. Hoe the ground thoroughly into a depth of half a meter. Now de-weed and filter it from foreign objects. Then ground the clay in fine particles. Also check the level of the ground. For small lawn it is better to keep the land a bit higher from the adjacent places. In case of big lawn make sure that the centre part is highest and then level it as such that it goes slowly downward towards the periphery. Now your lawn is ready for seeding or planting, depending upon the method you choose. Planting is the easier one of the both methods. Get weed free grass chunks and plant it on. If you go for seeding, mix the seed with fine sandy loam or sand and spread it evenly. Keep the soil moist until the grass appears.

Mowing:

Cut lawns when it reaches a height of 4 to 5 cms. In winter cut it as low as possible. Mowing once in a week is good for your lawn. When mowing, never mow twice in same direction, try lengthwise and sideways alternatively. Also never mow, when the soil is wet.

Fertilizing:
After monsoon rake the lawn lightly and spread a half inch layer of soil mixture containing leaf mould and finely grounded soil one part each. For clayey soil, sand in equal quantity should be added to the mixture. Give the lawn a dose of liquid fertilizer bi-weekly. Prepare the liquid fertilizer by mixing 10 ml of urea with 10 litres of water. You can also use ammonium sulphate instead of urea.

Deweeding:

This is the most awesome part of lawn maintenance. If you take care of it thoroughly at the beginning, it will not give you much trouble. Whereas in any existing lawn, any weed has to be removed completely with root. Also spread the grass you get after mowing as mulch. It, not only helps to prevent the spreading of the weed, also act as a nutrients for the lawn.

Bed preparation:
This is no one’s favourite garden chore, but there’s no way around it. Your chosen site will probably have grass on it or at least weeds. These must be cleared somehow, before you can plant anything. The important point to be borne in mind in digging is that top 20-25cm (8-10inch) soil which is the richest and the best, should remain at the top. After the soil has been prepared, it should be levelled with a wooden beam. If it is desired to make a bed alongside a road, an appreciable margin of lawn should be left between the bed and the road as it will considerable enhance the effect of the flowers. Soil may be enriched by adding organic and inorganic manures.
Choosing plants: This is harder than you might think .If you are starting small, you have to limit yourself to a handful of plants. Start with what colours you like. Rather than basing your dreams on a photograph from a magazine, take a look at what your neighbours are growing successfully. They may even able to give you a division or two.
Take a walk around a couple of nurseries and check the plants available. Then play with combining the plants that strike your eye until you find a combination of 3-5 plants that pleases you. Make sure that all the plants you choose have the same growing requirements (Sun, water, pH...) and that none of them are going to require more care than you can give them. Keep the variety of plants limited. It makes a better composition to have more plants of fewer varieties than to have one of this and one of that.

Planting:
Sometimes you have to plant when you have the time, even if that’s high noon on a Sunday. But the ideal time to plant is on a still, overcast day or in the afternoon as this would save the plant from immediate transpiration which takes place in day time. Provide light shade, if possible, to the plant till it is established, to prevent shock due to direct exposure to sunshine. This is more essential during hotter period. The point is stressing your new plants as little as possible.

Garden Maintenance:
Garden care doesn't have to take up all your spare time. Perhaps the main reason some new gardeners fail is that they don't pay attention to the garden often enough. You need to know the how, why and when of taking care of your garden, but you also need to stroll through your garden every few days and just look around. That way you will notice if seedlings are parched or the hostas are getting eaten by slugs. The key is to discover problems in time to do something about them - before they get out of control and turn into major chores that take over your weekend. All plants are going to require some maintenance. The idea that perennial plants require less maintenance than annuals is wrong. At the very least, your plants will require 1inch of water a week. If it rains regularly as it happens these days, well for you. If not, don’t let your plants get drought stressed. Once a plant is stressed it will never recover fully that growing season. There will also be weeding to do. Weed seeds come from all kinds of sources: wind, birds, soil on shoes etc. Deadheading or removing the spent blossoms from your flowers, will keep them blooming longer and looking fresher. Some taller plants may need to be staked, to keep from flopping. It may happen that one of your choices isn’t happy and dies. Move on and replace it with something else.
So make a garden you can enjoy and not the one which becomes burdensome. The work should not be beyond your capacity or the help you are likely to get. As the garden is yours and plant it as you would like it.
(The author is working as Junior Scientist Floriculture, KVK, Kupwara, SKUAST-K)

Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST




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