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Less is More in Gardens Too
by Monica Resinger

My flowerbeds weren't giving me the look I wanted. I couldn't pinpoint exactly 
what it was I didn't like. I planted, planted and planted more hoping to get 
that English cottage garden look. 

I had always hoped to have beautiful flowerbeds like the ones you see in 
magazines, but my gardens didn't turn out that way. To be honest, I enjoyed 
them more when I first put them in eight years ago. This should have given me a 
clue to what was wrong, but it still took me a while to figure it out. 

What did my flowerbeds look like? A simple description for it is like a wild 
jungle. I have always looked and studied over pictures in books and magazines 
and have always thought more was better. I crowded plants in wherever there was 
room thinking this would give me that English cottage garden look. Well, maybe 
at first this worked because the plants were small. Now, the plants are large 
and overcrowded. It just doesn't look good; in fact, it looks like a mess. 

Lately, I have noticed that the gardens I'm attracted to are ones where the 
soil is visible. I'm not sure if it's being able to see the soil or individual 
plants that I find most pleasing, but I do know these gardens look much better 
than my tangled jungle. I finally figured out why my flowerbeds didn't look 
good! They're too crowded. I know, it's so simple. 

So I began pruning, thinning out, dividing and weeding and there's a drastic 
improvement. The plants look healthier which I'm sure is from being able to get 
water, nutrients and oxygen from the soil that was once too crowded to get 
anything from. You can see the beauty of each individual plant rather than 
seeing a mixed up jumble of leaves and flowers. Each plant is highlighting the 
others rather than getting lost in a jungle. 

Now I'm not saying there should be five feet between each plant, I'm simply 
saying there should be a little room for the plants to show themselves off and 
for the soil to be visible. You can either go by recommended spacing 
requirements found with purchased plants or in gardening books, or you can 
simply space the plants so they barely touch each other, if at all. Keep in 
mind that perennials will come back bigger each year, so give them a little 
room to grow. 

If your gardens are looking like a jungle, here's some tips to get them back in 
shape. Get a pair of clippers, a pair of gardening gloves, a shovel, a 
wheelbarrow and a rake. Take a look at each plant and the ground in the garden 
and analyze what needs to be done. Clip any dead branches off shrubs and prune 
them to a desirable shape. Divide and re-plant any large perennials. Cut off 
any dead flowers or foliage off all plants. Lightly rake dead leaves or debris 
covering the soil. Weed. If one plant is growing in front of another so you 
can't see the other, prune the first plant down so you can see the other plant. 
Finally, give the garden a healthy dose of water. Now sit back with a glass of 
iced tea and enjoy the clean, healthy look of your new garden. 

So, the moral of the story is `less is more.... in gardens too.' 

Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home of 
many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and 
Get a FREE Slowcooker Recipe E-book when you subscribe to Monica's FREE e-zine 
for homemakers!? To subscribe and receive instructions for picking up your FREE 
e-book, just send a blank e-mail to:? [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Feel free to publish this article as long as the above bylines & this note are 
included; notification at [EMAIL PROTECTED] would be appreciated.

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