Fall into Gardening: Botanical Garden, extension office offer series for beginners

kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 26, 2012 

  • IF YOU GO

    What: Fall into Gardening

    When: 6-7 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 6-Sept. 27

    Where: Columbus Botanical Garden, 3603 Weems Rd.

    Cost: $40 for all four classes

    Deadline: Friday, Aug. 31

    Registration: Call the Botanical Garden at 706-327-8400

    Note: Registration includes the entire four-class package; there is no registration for individual classes

It's been four years and I'm just starting to figure out how to get flowers to grow in my front yard.

I don't have a lot of time to spend on gardening, but it's something I enjoy -- which probably places me nicely into the "weekend gardener" category that Jennifer Davidson says is the target for the Fall into Gardening series that will launch at the Columbus Botanical Garden next month.

Davidson, Columbus' city extension agent, said this is the extension office's "first effort at providing a nighttime series for the beginning gardener."

Teaming up with the Botanical Garden, the series includes basic classes on grass, vegetables, flowers and bugs that will be taught by UGA Cooperative Extension agents, Alabama Extension Service agents and the Garden's executive director Norman Winter.

Registration for the series, which costs $40 for all four classes, ends Aug. 31.

Davidson said the goal of this series, as well as of the UGA Cooperative Extension overall, is to "save the environment, save people time and save people money."

The class will offer tips on what kinds of plants, products and practices work best in the Chattahoochee Valley.

"They sell things in Big Box stores that don't work in our area," she said, noting that people may be spending money on grass seed that is more suitable to cooler environments or overusing fertilizer.

She encourages participants to come with some of their real-life experiences in mind so that instructors can help them answer specific questions about their lawns or gardens.

Each class will also cover soil -- how to have samples tested, how to amend it and other important information that gardeners should consider before they even select their plants.

Winter will cover the Flowers 101 class. While he'll discuss which flowers thrive in the fall, he said that much of what he teaches will be applicable all year round.

One such lesson will be on flower-bed color combinations.

"We've all driven down the road and passed a flower bed, or maybe seen one at an apartment complex or an office, and we just want to screech on the breaks and say, 'Look at that flower bed!,'" he said. "And what it really has to do with are the combinations that they've used."

He said their are four basic color schemes for a stand-out flower bed and all are based on the artists' color wheel.

There's the monochromatic color scheme, which employs shades of the same color while varying texture and shape.

"What's really neat about a monochromatic color scheme is that your neighbors and everyone else who sees it will think you knew what you were doing," Winter said. "That's what it does. It looks like you had a plan in mind."

The analogous color scheme is made up of colors that can be found close to each other on the color wheel. Winter said yellows and greens are analogous, as are reds and oranges.

To really add some pop and "excitement in the garden," the complimentary color scheme uses colors located on opposite sides of the color wheel.

Winter recommends starting with your favorite color -- say, violet -- then going to the opposite side of the wheel to find it's compliment -- in this case, yellow. There will usually be one warm color and one cool color, which makes for a nice contrast. Other examples of complimentary colors are orange and blue or red and green.

The final color scheme Winter mentions is triadic or quadratic harmony. Once again, he recommends starting with your favorite color, then selecting two or three other colors that are equidistant on the color wheel.

"If you look around at commercial landscapes, you'll see that they're doing that," Winter said. "They know what they're doing. We can all apply that to our flower bed as well."

But as fun as selecting the color schemes might be, Winter advised that there are other considerations to make as well.

"Besides color there's a couple other things to think about on plant or flower combinations: Do they have the same light requirement, soil requirement and water requirement?" he said. "If any of those are really hugely out of sync then you probably don't have a good combination there despite the fact that the color might work well."

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