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DSC 0645The March 3, 2016 Avon Garden Club program featured Dawn Hines, DeKalb County Master Gardener and Specialist.  Her talk sought to inspire interest in many different types of gardens, and she encouraged club members to add new gardens to their yards.

She began by showing a photo of her original front yard.  It had lots of lawn and globe-cut (meatball!) foundation plantings.  After consulting with Walter Reeves and incorporating her own ideas, the front yard was transformed into an informal, interesting landscape containing winding paths, arbors, vines, multiple parterres, arching shrubs, and plantings to attract pollinators.  With that as a beginning, she showed photographs of specific types of gardens, some small (herb, bonsai, moss, rock, pots, and fragrance), and then proceeded on to larger spaces (fern, shade, woodland, hosta, night-moonflower, winter, and brown-thumb gardens).  Also included were a rose garden, native plant-baptisia garden, and a field of self-seeding zinnias garden.

We were encouraged to start small, keep it simple, and have fun by introducing into the garden art and unique items. She suggested that we follow certain rules:  a) install hardscapes first   b) maximum time, effort, and money should be spent on soil preparation  c) consider whether trees and shrubs are to be used  d) use native plants if possible and make good choices, avoiding invasive plants  e) heritage plants like camellias, azaleas, and hydrangeas, although not native, have been in Georgia a long time and are great if shrubs are to be used  f)  consider the view from the house, and don't hesitate to remove wrong selections you may have made  g)  plant for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  Bumblebees are attracted to blue and yellow flowers and these should be abundant in your garden.  

Do not use pesticides.  The most commonly available pesticides for the past 20 or more years have been the neonicotinoids.  They are water soluble.  Application to seed or water allows systemic absorption of the pesticide so that the nectar and pollen produced by the plant contains the pesticide, which is consumed by bees and other pollinators.  The pesticide is also in the flesh of the plant and is consumed by humans and animals.  Breakdown in nature is slow, taking several years, and there is buildup in the soil after repeated use.  Thus subsequent plantings using pesticide-free practices still result in toxic nectar and pollen for several years.  Select seeds and plants from nurseries that do not use neonicotinoids.  For further information go to