By Molly Day
All the Dirt on Gardening
Atlanta is the home of HGTV personality and author Erica Glasener (ericaglasner.com), who gave two talks Saturday at the Flower Garden and Nature Society. The FGNS program chairwoman, Gail Pianalto, introduced Glasener as “a rock star of the gardening world.”
Glasener was the host of “A Gardener’s Diary” on HGTV for 14 years, interviewing gardeners across the U.S. Her writing credentials include a gardening column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Southern Lady Magazine, Fine Gardening and many others.
Her books include “Proven Plants: Southern Gardens” and her planting tips are part of the Southern Living Plant Collection website, southernlivingplants.com/expert_advice.
Glasener opened her first talk by saying that she thinks the soul of any garden is its gardener. She is a plant lover who thinks native plants are perfect but that imported plants and hybrids are also quite important in a garden.
The morning talk included dozens of photos from the gardens that were featured on “Gardener’s Diary” plus her own garden.
Clematis arabella is a favorite in her own garden. Glasener recommends letting it grow as a ground cover and through perennials. It blooms from May to August in zones 4 to 9. No pruning is necessary with arabella.
Another of Glasener’s favorite plants is Amsonia hubrichtii or Arkansas bluestar. The Perennial Plant Association chose amsonia as the plant of the year in 2011. Its grass-like leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, producing clumps 2 feet tall. It produces pale blue flowers in April and May, and the fall leaf color is gold to yellow.
In the afternoon talk, Glasener focused on a topic that she said is close to her heart: “Why do people garden?” She commented that landscapers can install a landscape for your home, but there is no such thing as low-maintenance gardening.
“Low-maintenance gardening misses the whole purpose of gardening,” she said. “Why garden? If you want a low-maintenance garden, take up golf instead.”
She said gardeners should consider the plants that will surround structures and paving. In one garden, blue chairs and a blue trellis set off hydrangeas and a collection of blue flowers. In another, black mondo grass lined and set off a path made of gravel and pavers.
In her talk “Designing a Garden for Year-Around Pleasure,” Glasener said to pay attention to plant groupings to include something of interest for all four seasons so you can enjoy the view all year.
For example, include an evergreen plant with a group of deciduous ones. In the summer the evergreen will fade into the background, but it will take center stage after the first freeze. She also used collards as a background planting for wallflowers and other spring flowers.
Also for winter interest, plant arum italicum pictum. The leaves come up in the fall, remain over the winter and die back in the summer. Cold hardy in zones 5 to 9, Lords and Ladies prefer moist shade.
Glasener’s new book, “Proven Plants: Southern Gardens,” is divided into 20 categories, including: Perennials for Shade, Trees With Colorful Bark, and Flowering Bulbs for Summer and Fall. In each category, 10 proven plants are described with facts and photos. All the basics such as drought, soil and sun are covered, too.
The Flower Garden and Nature Society meets on a Saturday morning each month in Springdale, Ark..
Coming meetings and their topics:
• May 18, The Herbal Adventurers, Sheila Deal and Meghan Hassler, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Herbs.”
• June 1, “Through the Garden Gate” garden tour.
• July 20, Lynn Rogers, Washington County Master Gardener, “Irises: Rainbows in the Garden.”
Learn more about the society at https://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA or call Gail Pianalto at (479) 361-2198. Also read Lynn Rogers’ garden blog at http://fromlynnsgarden.