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Gardening with "Brother"

"Brother", aka Uncle Ernie, has been gardening "since I was old enough to thump melons".
Now in his 90's, he still can work longer and harder than most younger men.
He arises just before "can-see", and gardens and handy-man's all the way to "can't-see", with just a lunch break (and, as we've spyed, a couple of short cat-naps in his swing).

His column is updated every day or thereabouts, so check back to see what's doing in his garden.

Brother Gardening circa 1935

Some Border Design Tips

Previously I talked about how the repetition of plants provides continuity in the border.

You don't necessarily have to even repeat the exact same grouping.

Perhaps you'd like to use a different grass or silvery-leafed plant.

Also, when drawing in your shapes, avoid the lined-up, soldiers-on-parade look.

Vary the depth into the border that your favorite combinations are placed.

Take plant heights into account, but then relax a little.

A plant that is low growing, but sends a flower stalk several feet in the air is a good front-of-the-border surprise.

Plant in masses -- three's, fives, sevens -- depending on the area you have to work with.

Large specimen plants can be singular, but odd numbers of plants are easier to view.

Also, not all the space in the garden must be planted.

Remember to leave your access walk (two feet) at the back unplanted, and also leave some pauses -- areas that highlight depth in your garden.

You may want to place a birdbath in one of those spots at some point.


You can encourage many beautiful butterfly species to hang out in your yard and garden by growing flowers that supply the food and nectar they need.

If you have a wildflower garden, alfalfa, clovers, Queen Anne's Lace, and teasel will be particularly attractive to butterflies.

Planting parsley will attract swallowtails (their larvae will eat the plants; so plant extra for your kitchen needs!).

Other butterfly favorites include

  • ageratum
  • hollyhock
  • asters
  • buddleia
  • daisies
  • coreopsis
  • zinnias
  • daylilies
  • bee balms
  • phlox
  • lavender
  • If you want to be selective, you can purchase a butterfly identification book that tells you the specific types of plants each species favors.

    You'll also boost the butterfly population overall by providing sheltered spots, low-growing groundcovers for them to sun themselves, and shallow sources of moisture for drinking.

    Pull yourself up a shovel blade and sit yourself down for a visit with "Brother" and his "Wise" Sayings.

    If you're on the lookout for a great gardening resource, check out Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew.

    Published by Rodale Press, this book offers very helpful information on garden basics such as soil preparation, planting techniques, and controlling weeds -- but it's much more than a general gardening manual.

    Square Foot Gardening will introduce you to a system of designing gardens that are easy to maintain, that conserve resources, and that produce abundantly in less space.

    Do you have some gardening knowledge to share or have a question for "Brother"?

    You can Write to Brother!

    Include your first initial and last name and put the word GARDEN in the subject.

    I'll try to use your contribution in a future column.

    (Please note that these columns are written several weeks in advance so publishing it will be delayed accordingly.)

    See y'all tomorrow and remember:
    Nowhere else in the world are we closer to the Creator than in the garden. Well, at least we're closer to His creation.


    Brother Resting

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