by Connie Oswald Stofko
What is this garden showing me?
That’s what gardening expert Sally Cunningham will help you learn in one of four talks she will present during the WNY Home & Garden Expo at the Fairgrounds, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg.
The expo will be held 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb 19; noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.
I’ll have a booth there, so stop by and say hello.
Cunningham’s talks, aimed at the beginning gardener, are part of a stronger emphasis on gardening this year at the Home & Garden Expo.
“I will focus on the basics,” Cunningham said. “I want to encourage beginning gardeners, take the fear out and save them some mistakes. You can do this!”
Her talks are:
- 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20: “Growing Better Flowers” Tips for success with perennials and annuals in the garden or containers.
- 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21: “Great Plants, Great Gardens” New and proven perennials and shrubs for 2015.
- 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21: “I Want What They Have: Lessons from Other People’s Gardens.”
- 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22: “Your Home Landscape” What every homeowner should know about trees, shrubs, and landscape maintenance.
In “I Want What They Have,” Cunningham will show you lots of photos she has taken on garden walks and at the Open Gardens of the National Garden Festival. You’ll do more than ooh and aah over the pretty gardens; you’ll learn to pick out the elements that make those gardens successful so that you can use those elements in your own landscape.
One aspect she will discuss is artwork. Where is it placed? Does it draw you straight back to the garden? Does it peek around a corner? Is it near a bench where you can sit and meditate?
She suggested chatting with the gardener to find out how and why they chose a particular art piece to display in their garden, even if their taste is very different from your own. You won’t replicate that art piece, but you can repeat the process they used to find something that is meaningful to yourself.
Garden art isn’t just statues and gazing balls and cast iron garden gates that were intended to be displayed in a garden. You’ll see many found objects, such as straw hats, and repurposed items, such as chairs with no bottoms made into planters. Look at what other gardeners do and how they make it work.
One of the best things about garden walks is that you can get ideas on how to use the space you have. You don’t have to have a three-foot hedge around your yard and a garden pushed up along the fence, Cunningham said. Notice that many of the great gardens on garden walks have a wide, sweeping garden or an island garden.
Hardscapes are important, too, she said. Hardscapes are the built-in structures such as gazebos, archways, pergolas and swings.
“A garden without any structure is not a ‘wow’ garden,” Cunningham said. “What a difference one hardscape choice can make.”
The style and the feeling of the garden and how it relates to the house is also important. If you have a Victorian or Cape Cod house, don’t choose angular yucca and grasses for your garden. Those plants don’t relate historically or stylistically to the architecture.
Simple things such as color can tie your landscape to the house. Purple liatris could complement your shutters, or the blue of a rhododendron can pick up the color of a door and window box.
Tickets to the WNY Home & Garden Expo are $7 at the door or $6 online.
Cunningham, CNLP, is the tour director for Great Garden Travel, a division of Horizon Club Tours. She is also a TV garden expert, author of Great Garden Companions (Rodale Books) and consultant at Lockwood’s Greenhouses of Hamburg.