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Expert Advice on Designing Your Ideal Garden: An Interview with Deena Spellman of Bastrop Gardens

By Deena Spellman

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Bastrop Gardens is an onion in Business, in that she has many layers. Bastrop Gardens is an organic nursery,with herbs, native plants, perennials, shrubs, native blooming trees and garden art for sale. We have butterfly gardens, a labyrinth for contemplation , and an outdoor tea room. Bastrop Gardens also provides landscaping, from creation to freshening; irrigation, both new systems installed and repairs; we also have a small 'pick your own' organically grown veggie farm and participate with our local farmers market. We have very knowledgeable staff that can answer most any gardens questions, and if not, can find out the answer for you.

Can you briefly describe the main steps of designing or updating your garden?

Most important thing is to allow your garden to be a place of expression and success. Check the health of the soil. Most soils need amending, so get a soil test or at least know your soil ph. Select plants that are for your specific zone and soil type. The correct plant, in the correct zone, will save money and wasted material. Let the property and the gardens show itself to you. If new construction, this is very important. Ask yourself "what purpose do I want for areas of my yard", i.e. children's play area, butterfly garden, or even storing the boat. An existing bed may need freshening up and a new color pop, for your personnel touch.

What are some of the biggest challenges that homeowners in Texas face when it comes to garden design?

Bastrop County has many different soil types, and they can all be on one piece of property. Knowing to, and spending the money on good organic soil and amendments is the first step and hardest to convince folks of. It is difficult unless you understand that healthy soil creates healthy plants. Then you understand the financial need for healthy, screened and amended soils. Bastrop County is still recovering from a devastating fire, so the need to know fire-wise gardening is important. We also are under drought, bringing the need to know water-wise (xeric) gardening techniques as well.

How do people choose plants with the right look and growing profile for their garden?

It is necessary in areas with weather extremes, such as prolonged drought, to select as many native plants as possible. Purchase your plants from a reputable garden center with knowledgeable staff. It is important to pick out the proper plant for the proper area. Know where in the garden the plant is going before you purchase.

What options are available for people who don't have a lot of privacy in their yard because it's too close to the neighbors, not fenced in, etc.?

Living fences! Living fences can be made using a variety of plants. The Eleagnus, Primrose Jasmine, Cherry Laurels, and Wax Myrtles, all make beautiful living evergreen fences. They can be utilized as a living fence or to block an unwanted view as well. They provide habitat and bring birds into the gardens.

What advice do you have for homeowners who have a smaller garden and want to make the most of the space?

Let us quit wasting money watering lawns. We should be steadfastly removing sod and creating native, xeriscape gardens in their place! Invite the birds and butterflies back into your yard with beautiful plants and gardens instead. I have yet to see a lawn feed anything!! If you cannot give up lawn, then Texas Cottage gardening is the way to go. This combines native plants, herbs, roses and all at staggered heights.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Bastrop Gardens has a Website, www.bastropgardens.com, and a facebook page as well. We are also available the old-fashion way by telephone! (512) 30 FLORA, aka 512 303 5672. We are available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except August hours are 9 to 4. August is typically the hottest month of the year. Time to plan for fall gardening. Fall Gardening is the best gardening time in central Texas.

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