by Connie Oswald Stofko
Everywhere you turn, there’s a great view in the backyard of Jerry and Karen Dwigun in Elma. And Karen Dwigun has lots of tips to help you make the most of your landscape.
The Dwiguns shared their landscape during Open Gardens in July.
Find the right spot for a perennial
- Plants that are marked “shade” still need some sun, Dwigun said.
- If you put a plant in a spot and it’s not doing well, move it.
- Experiment with your plants. She has astilbe, which is usually regarded as a shade plant, and cone flowers, recommended for sun, in the same spot.
Have enough plants, but not too many
- It’s often recommended that you buy three of a perennial, but there’s no need, Dwigun said. Perennials spread, so you’ll have three plants soon enough.
- If a plant gets too big, split it. You can move a piece to another part of your yard and start a new garden. Or give a piece to another gardener– gardeners should trade plants.
- If you have a patch of plants such as purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan, and the plant shows up in another spot in your yard, don’t leave it there, Dwigun said, or you’ll end up having nothing but purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. “You’ll waste all your time saving all these little plants,” she said. “Just throw it away.” (I agree. Relocating them in your own yard takes time, and if you pot up every stray black-eyed Susan to give away, you won’t have time for other gardening chores. It’s okay to throw some extra plants in the compost.)
- When you do buy plants, “buy stuff from local garden centers– they’re the ones you go to for information, so support them,” she said.
Keep flowers blooming
Some plants need to be deadheaded in order to produce more blooms and some plants don’t. If you’re not sure whether a plant needs to be deadheaded, go ahead and try, Dwigun said. It may rebloom.
A favorite plant: cactus
Prickly pear cactus is one of Dwigun’s favorite outdoor plants.
“It will wilt down and look dead in winter,” she said. “Leave it alone. It will puff up in the spring, then get big yellow flowers for a short time.”
It’s easy to propagate. You can break off a piece and place it in the soil to get a new plant.
“I love the prickly pear,” she said.