The quick and dirty tricks of the yearly show gardener

If only everything could be like these hydrangeas, which pretty much look great all summer long.


Keep in mind that I’m not talking about gardens that are regularly visited by the public, via bus tours, Open Days, and appointments. Those are the real show gardens, and they don’t need to resort to subterfuge because they are maintained by dedicated owners (and sometimes staff) and they always look perfect.


The hanging basket I had just never popped. Time to toss it in favor of this one.


Garden Walk gardeners are left alone most of the year; they just need to be ready for the last weekend in July, when crowds of visitors descend on their neighborhoods. Because there are so many gardens, however, these visitors are not spending that much time in any particular garden. They can’t; there just isn’t time. So you can get away with things like:


These are houseplants but they can be popped into containers that have issues.


• Buying full-grown plants at the last minute to hide unsuccessful planting areas.

• Letting weeds thrive until a couple days before and then wacking all the pavement ones down with a trimmer. The others are only removed if they are a. obviously weeds, and b. noticeable.

• The other good weed option is laying down fine-grained dark mulch a couple days before, which will cover small ones and maybe smother them. I truly believe plants are the best mulch, but I have areas where coverage happens really slowly, thanks to (severe) dry shade.

• Buying the full-grown plants and not even bothering to plant them, if the containers can’t be seen.

• Covering up—and adding color—with brand-new annuals wherever possible. Of course, there are certain areas of my garden where every plant is a possible annual.


Dark (undyed) mulch can work wonders.


Of course, I’m not speaking of all Garden Walk gardeners, but many of us really have to do a lot of last-minute maintenance, especially those of us with fulltime jobs. It’s cheating, but it’s kind of fun, too.


Hope to see you this weekend. If so, see if you can find any of my garden trickery.


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