Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Need a Plan: A New Class Series on the Fundamental Steps to Create a Garden

Use color, shape and texture to create an alluring mixed border.
Photo by Karen Webbink
By Erika Zambello

Growing your own garden is a rewarding experience, one that combines a love of the outdoors, a love of plants, and a large amount of creativity. Still, sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin, whether in creating your first garden, improving one you already have, or starting over in a new location. To help, Duke Gardens is launching a new class series: “I Need a Plan: the Fundamental Steps to Create a Garden.”

The class series includes three separate courses, each of which meets for two Tuesdays from 6:30-9 p.m. You can sign up for all three, mix and match, or just take one.

One of the most satisfying aspects of gardening is the ability to masterfully combine colors and textures in one beautiful design. In the first course, “Create a Colorful Mixed Border,” Beth-Rudd Myers, landscape designer for Brightleaf Landscaping, will show you how successful planting design uses a combination of texture, seasonality, color and size. Combining these elements in the planting of shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers will maximize beauty and minimize maintenance.

"My goal is for students to learn the practical skills that you need to confidently make a beautiful garden," Myers says, "It's not just about picking two plants that look nice together in the nursery. You need to know if they will grow in the same conditions, how much space they need, will deer eat one and leave the other," and more. Through the two classes, students will learn how to pick winning combinations for their own gardens.

Learn how to create a pollinator garden at Duke Gardens.
Photo by Erika Zambello

Gardens are not only for human enjoyment, they can also provide valuable habitat to a host of pollinators and wildlife. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "of the slightly more than 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the food supplies for 146 countries, 71 are bee-pollinated."

Under guidance from Lauri Lawson from Niche Gardens, in "Create a Pollinator Garden," students will discover the pollinators native to our region and then create a plant list that includes everything needed by them, from food to shelter. However, as we all know, every garden is different, so Lawson will help students filter their lists to match the conditions of their own gardens, whether sunny, shady, dry or wet.
Learn how to grow healthy and delicious
herbs at Duke Gardens.
Photo by Erika Zambello

When most people think of garden products, they think of beautiful fruits and vegetables. But herb gardens are also a great way to add both flavor and scent to your garden and your dinner table. In "Create a Culinary Herb Garden," learn from Heather Hill, children’s program manager at SEEDS, how to build a garden for your favorite herbs and then how to harvest and save those herbs for delicious cooking.

"Herbs are easy to grow," Hill says, "It's a really good place to start growing your own food." Even better, "herbs are really great additions to cooking," she says, "and so it's a way to kind of elevate what you're cooking in the kitchen."

Whether you're just starting out or looking to enhance your gardening skills, the "I Need a Plan" series has a class for everyone. Each section is $45; Gardens members $35, or take all three for only $120; Gardens members $90. All have participant limits of 15, so reserve your spot today!

The complete list is below:

"Create a Colorful Mixed Border" - 2 Tuesdays, March 24 and 31, from 6:30 - 9 p.m.
"Create a Pollinator Garden" - 2 Tuesdays, April 7 and 14, from 6:30 - 9 p.m.
"Create a Culinary Herb Garden" - 2 Tuesdays, April 21 and 28, from 6:30 - 9 p.m.

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