The Q&A Archives: Beginning a Garden

Question: This is our first year really "planning" a garden. We live in Rocky Hill, CT and need to know which plants do well in our area--not only in our climate but also in our novice hands. I love formal gardens but also love wildflowers and butterflies. It will be a family project so things kids like are also important. Hopefully we can do alot with herbs and veggies too. It's hard to know where to start!

Answer: If you're planning a flower garden from the ground up, (no pun intended) lay a skeleton of perennials which will bloom year after year with little or no help from you. In and around that skeleton, plant annuals which will give you lots of color, butjust for one season. In order to make it special you'll want to add shrubs and maybe some blooming trees. Remember that your garden is like an artist's painting. It takes some planning, a sense of what colors look good together, and a flair for designing. Do you want your work of art to be "cubist" or "impressionist"? Whimsical or formal? The best thing about this "artwork" is that if you don't like the way it turns out? Just move it! That's why gardeners are always so busy in their gardens. They aren't isn't just weeding...they're "creating"! <br><br>Read the plant descriptions in the catalog--you'll find the height, color, conditions required, perennial or annual and even WHEN theplant blooms. This will get you headed in the right direction. Start dreaming and then put your dreams down on paper. This is one of the MOST wonderful projects for parents and kids to do together.<br><br>There is definitley a place for wildflowers inyour garden. Some fit nicely into the border, or maybe you want a special place just for them. Remember that wildflowers are essentially "weeds". They will not be as constant as cultivated plants.<br><br>As far as butterflies are concerned, they like flowers with "umbels". (Umbels are essentially flat flowers like dill or Queen Anne's lace.) But they'll visit any sweet thing. <br><br>Visit Comstock, Ferre as well as Milane Nursery. They're both loaded with plants and help for beginning gardeners! By the way, you're in zones 4/5. I'd go by the lower(4) and be on the safe side. <br> <br>You can grow just about any vegetable--just grow what you and your family like best. One caution: be wary of starting too big--and getting overwhelmed and discouraged. Remember you'll be building on your garden for many years to come!

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