Garden Design

To Garden Is To Use Notes


Because I write for three different organizations, I’m continually reading about new plants on the market or unfamiliar plants. On my computer there’s a handy app called “Notes,” an app I find myself using more and more. This is where I write down the names of those plants that might hold potential interest for me when the growing season is just around the corner.

I use the Latin names for plants primarily because the common names for them don’t register on my faulty brain. For instance, “coral bells” holds little meaning for me but mention Heuchera and I’ll know exactly what you are talking about. However, Latin names can also trip me up. It took me years to learn how to pronounce Hakonechloa only to learn that this is one grass I cannot grow. Likewise, the Latin names of unfamiliar plants don’t always register with me—and I’m certainly incapable of remembering them for nine months before it’s time to place my plant order.

Therefore, in Notes, I have a section called “Plants to Consider.” On July 15, 2016, I entered Sabatia kennedyana ‘Juniper Creek’. Four months later, realizing I had no idea what a Sabatia is, I had to look it up. Do I really want to have it in my garden? Because I came across some description about it that spurred on my imagination, I shall investigate whether or not it will fit.

Likewise, I put Nectaroscodum siculum on the list in June of 2016. Now I’d love to tell you that my brain and memory could wrap themselves around Nectaroscodum, only to bring it forth when I needed it but that is not the case. Consequently, because I had it in Notes, I was able to drag it forth before I put in my biannual order for bulbs.

In the best of times roses are confusing creatures because there are seemingly millions and millions of varieties, with new ones appearing on the market all the time. Now a lot of old garden roses were named after people. I can remember ‘Mme. Joseph Swartz’ and ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ but give me ‘Prairie Harvest’ or ‘Wedding Bells’ and these names briefly flitter through my mind before facing oblivion. The latter two names went down in Notes so I could dredge them out when the time came to put in my rose order.

The same thing happens when I have fallen in love with a plant and desire to have more specimens. This past summer I had two dahlias of the Gallery Series that performed beautifully for me. Blooming throughout the summer, ‘Gallery Art Fair’ and ‘Gallery Rembrandt’ required no staking, an important attribute as I am distinctly an untalented plant staker. So I added “Dahlia Gallery series” to Notes to remind me to order these two for the 2017 summer garden.

I rarely think of annuals but one annual this past summer was a knockout. If one marigold ‘Whopper’ made me happy, I have every confidence seven of these marigolds scattered throughout the garden will make me even happier. Tagetes erecta ‘Whopper’ now resides in Notes to remind me come late January to start germinating its seeds.

A long shot is David Austin’s new rose ‘Olivia Rose Austin’—supposedly his most disease resistant rose yet. Because she’s only offered on grafted roots, I shall wait to buy it when she’s on her own roots instead. In the meantime, her name is listed under “Roses” in Notes to remind me when that time comes.

You can rely on your own memory but just in case it sometimes needs tweaking, try using Notes.

Kit Flynn has been an Extension Master Gardener in Durham for thirteen years. Besides being a compulsive gardener in Chapel Hill, she also writes gardening articles for the Durham County Extension Master Gardener newsletter and for “Senior Correspondent,” an online magazine.


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