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4/23/23 Spring projects

Our New Year's resolution is to scale up our backyard garden and have flowers blooming all year round while providing a sanctuary for our wildlife residents.

We experienced multiple terrible frosts last winter and early this spring, which killed quite a few of our tender plants, such as banana trees, figs, the majority of our olive trees, rosemary, and even blueberry trees. We decided to focus on more resilient plants that can withstand today's extreme temperatures. In our experience, salvias, especially autumn sages, do very well in our Georgia US Zone 7b environment, and they have a long blooming period that lasts at least three seasons. So this year, after the last average frost in mid-April, we planted many more autumn sages in our garden along with some other plants from the salvia family, such as Speedwell and Russian sage.

The frost also killed our bushes on the side of our house. We removed all the bushes and turned it into a low-maintenance perennial flower bed. We were able to use our own compost and leaf mold to mix with the original clay soil. The leaf mold improved water drainage, while the compost provided nutrition. We selected guaras, lavenders, and salvias for this bed since they do not need a lot of attention and can grow happily on their own. Hopefully, the lavenders and autumn sages can be semi-evergreen, whereas the Guaras and the other salvias bloom early. This bed sits under our neighbor's Tulip tree, which provides partial shade in the noon. So far, all the flowers seem to be very happy bathing in the dappled sunlight and spring breeze.

In addition to this newly added flower bed, we also improved our dry and wet flower beds. The dry bed has drainage-free, sandy, and poor soil. We also dug in some plant ash to give it a little bit of alkalinity in the originally acidic soil. In this dry bed, it's the second year for Iceland poppies, yarrows, hyssops, and sea hollies to grow happily without much attention or disturbance. We don't need to water or fertilize these plants except to aerate the soil from time to time to ensure it stays loose.

Dry flower bed. Poppies just faded. Yarrows are blooming. Hyssops are growing happily.

Right on the side of the dry bed is our wet bed, or rather, rich bed. In this flower bed, we prepared rich compost, good drainage, and loamy soil. We water this bed during dry spells and fertilize the plants regularly. In this bed, we planted a variety of pollinator-friendly flower seeds, such as cone flowers, sunflowers, delphiniums, columbine, wallflower, etc. Hopefully, the flowers in this bed can provide food from early spring all the way to late fall.

rich bed with cut flowers to attract pollinators

Since we had much better success when grouping our plants according to their growing conditions, we started to plan more garden areas based on the wind, sunlight, drainage, and soil richness. It is also much easier to manage when you know each area needs different attention. The side garden is a perennial, laissez-faire flower bed. There is a Mediterranean garden that grows solely for poor soil, full sun Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary, lavenders, sages, and thyme. The dry and wet beds are close to our deck, which can be attended easily. So we have more tender plants that may require more attention and maintenance. Close to the wet bed, there are also veggie beds that grow tomatoes, basil, green onions, and fish mint which all require moist, rich soil. April is the best month for gardeners. Insects are buzzing, birds are chirping, frogs are croaking, and the fragrance of flowers floats in the gentle Spring air. Every rain is cherished and appreciated. All the plants are beginning to shoot. Most importantly, mosquitoes are not all out yet and the Georgian sun is not scorching yet. We spend all our spare time in our garden planting, watering, loving, relaxing, and enjoying

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