Add interest to your garden; learn more in horticulture classes

closeup of coleus by Stofko
Flowers aren’t the only way to add interest to your garden. Think of leaves, like the ones on this coleus. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“Color is the most fleeting experience in a garden,” said David Clark,  horticulturist and CNLP.

But color isn’t the only way to add interest to your garden.

Clark, a dynamic instructor with a wealth of knowledge, will share insights with you during his class on Garden Design in October.

It’s one of the classes he will teach online in Horticulture I and Horticulture II, hosted by the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. See details below.

northern red oak bark and leaf
After the leaves have fallen, northern red oak has interesting bark. Photo courtesy Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Look beyond color

If you want to make design changes in your garden, Clark suggests that you first go outside (don’t just gaze through a window!) and walk through your garden. Make notes of the things you like and the things you don’t like.

If your garden is boring, try to figure out what is missing.

Color in your garden can be fleeting if you depend on perennials; the flowers may last only two or three weeks, he said.

You can add some annuals for a pop of color here and there. And look for colorful foliage as well– not just on annuals such as coleus, but on perennials and shrubs, too.

“Plan for all the seasons,” Clark said. While you might look to peonies for floral color in early summer, “The foliage on peonies has a russet color in fall,” which he enjoys.

Many trees are prettiest in autumn when the leaves change color. After the leaves fall, look for interesting bark patterns, such as on the red oak, he said.

Spring bulbs can add not only color, but fragrance. You must plant those bulbs in autumn to bloom in spring, he noted, adding that it’s almost time to plant.

Here are other ways to add interest in your garden:

  • Structure. Trees and shrubs are the bones of your garden. Mix upright choices with specimens that have bushier growing habits. Perennials with different shapes can add variety, too.
  • Height. In addition to trees and shrubs, include tall perennials in your landscape. Aim for a variety of heights.
  • Texture. Foliage as well as bark has texture. Choosing a variety of leaves–fuzzy, smooth, frilly and glossy–mixes things up.

For more ideas on garden design, sign up for the class. See details below.

Sign up now for classes

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens will host two series of horticulture classes on Zoom.

You can take a single class or the entire series.

These classes are great for beginners or gardeners wishing to brush up on their skills.

An optional supply list will be posted online for those who wish to supplement their instruction with hands-on materials.

Horticulture I

Horticulture I classes will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from Aug. 29 to Oct. 3. The classes will be held on Zoom.

The topics are:

101 – Aug. 29 – Botany 101
102 – Sept. 5 – Plant Propagation
103 – Sept. 12 – Pest Management and Disease
104 – Sept. 19 – Shrubs and Trees
105 – Sept. 26- Annuals and Perennials
106 – Oct. 3 – Garden Design

The fees are $25 per class or $150 per series for the general public and $22.50 per class or $135 per series for members of the Botanical Gardens.

Horticulture II

Horticulture II classes will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays starting Oct. 10 on Zoom.

The topics are:

201 –October 10- Soil Science for Gardeners
202 –October 24- Advanced Plant Propagation Techniques
203 –November 7- Getting Started with Hydroponics
204 – November 14-Water Gardening and Aquascaping
205 –November 21-Practical Principles of Pruning
206 –December 5 – Introduction to Landscape Design

The fees are $25 per class or $150 per series for the general public and $22.50 per class or $135 per series for members of the Botanical Gardens.

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