Nikki's Guide to the Greenhouse

Okay, I've been frequenting greenhouses for some time. I truly walk in the door and feel completely out of my element and in fact feel as though if they (the Gardening Gods) knew how little I know about gardening they would have security toss me out. I don't know much, but here are some of the lessons I have learned as I've lurked through greenhouses over the years.

A word of warning first, you will want it all right now. Sorry, you can't have it all. Gardening is no place for control freaks and perfectionists. It's not going to be amazing the first year and guess what? It's not supposed to. Gardens evolve and they need time to do that.

Back to the greenhouse and how to actually make the trip worthwhile.
  1. Plant with a purpose. Know why you're there. Know what areas of your yard you are shopping for. Is it in shade? Is it in full sun, part sun? How large is the space? Really, this is the only homework required.
  2. Think about your soil. Someone once gave me some great advice: spend as much money on enriching your soil as you do on the plants that grow in it. I don't test my soil, but I've heard this is ever so helpful. I, on the other hand, try to achieve "fluffy" soil. It has a good small crumb texture, achieved through organic matter (see every post I've every made regarding compost).
  3. Buy more than 1 of a flowering variety. Unless you are buying only enough for a planter box, buying in multiples of 6+ is the only way to go. Multiple plantings throughout your yard create a more unified garden.
  4. Buy non flowering plants. Flowers don't last forever and you must like the look of the plant when there are no flowers blooming. Foliage has a beauty all it's own, so look past the flowers!
  5. Having said that, don't get stuck in thinking what is blooming in the nursery will continue blooming in your garden. In fact you want to grab the flat of flowers that hasn't quite bloomed. Why? You want them to flower in your garden, rather than in the pots at the nursery.
  6. It's never a good buy to purchase unhealthy plants. Like men, you won't change them. They will just die and rot or become a greater commitment than they are worth. Also don't purchase plants that have a mass of roots coming out the bottom, these plants will be root-bound, heavy feeders and may suffocate other plants near it of their nutrients.
  7. Learn some latin. Most greenhouse flowers are labelled according to their latin names. So if your looking for a particular flower, knowing it's full latin name can help you immensley! alba, candida, virgineus, nivea - mean white. coccinea, azurea, cyanea -mean blue. rubra, sanguinea - both mean red. nana implies it's a dwarf sized plant. vegetus implies vigorous growth. I could go on, but my brain would explode.

See I told you I didn't know much, but this much I do know. Gardening can be one of the most fulfilling hobbies. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, they may produce a few wonderful discoveries.

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