* The Wellness Corner: Smile More

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Gardening may be good for the soul, but it can also be an intimidating task with so many things to consider before even getting started. However, with the right information, new gardeners can start planting some happiness gardens. 

California’s Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters allows so many different plants to grow and thrive.  By considering the following factors before planting a garden, gardeners and their plants will be well on the way to gardening success.

The first thing to consider is the garden’s style. Similar to creating your home’s ambiance of an industrial, cottage, or farmhouse contemporary vibe, it is important to consider what style best reflects the gardener’s taste.  Various garden styles include drought-tolerant displays, sun gardens, shade gardens, vegetable gardens, or rock gardens where small plants could be placed between rocks. 

Hardscape areas such as sidewalks, walls, driveways, bricks, and stones are great places to add flowers and plants. Like curtains around a window, the gardening elements will soften the hard edges of hardscapes.

Gardening space or area would be the next priority to consider. Some plants require quite a bit of growth space, and spacing information for these can be found on the plant’s tag information. Some plants, like impatiens, thrive when clustered closer together. Sunset magazine and gardening books are great resources to find gardening ideas to fulfill both taste and space needs.

Identifying sun zones or exposure areas in your various garden sites is also important.  As identified on their labels, some plants are shade-loving while others require full sun.  The south side of a property is the hottest area, with the west side being the next runner-up for heat. The north side of a property is the coolest area, with the east side, another cool area, basking in the morning sun.  

Don’t forget vegetables!  These can be incorporated into flowerbeds or be planted as an isolated area.  Vegetable gardens, however, require at least six hours of daily sun with a nearby water resource.

Another way to build interest in either flower or vegetable gardens is to use plants in pots.  Many plants will thrive in pots, and a variety of potted plants will add visual interest to gardens. However, potted plants may require a bit of extra care as they quickly become thirsty, drying out a bit faster than plants in the ground that retain water. 

Those with limited space may also consider a small herb garden in a kitchen window or near the kitchen to add fresh ingredients to foods.  Compact plants are a consideration for limited space areas. 

For instant gratification, plants available through local nurseries and home supply stores are ready for immediate planting.  For those with a bit more patience or fewer time constraints, growing plants from seeds or transplants is another alternative. 

As Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” As our gardens with beautiful flowers and vegetables take root, maybe hope for better days ahead will grow as well.

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