gardening made easy

You may not have a green thumb or know the difference between Boston Fern and Chinese Evergreen, but you love the idea of growing plants. Whether you would like to add a splash of color to your kitchen, enjoy window boxes filled with lush greenery, or liven up your patio with some herbs, gardening can be simply done. In fact, there are plenty of easy, doable ways to bring plants into your life with just a little effort. Learn how, thanks to three experts: Peter DeLuca of Organic Landscapes based in Bedford, Charles King Sadler of King Garden in Hastings, and Elena Kupka, owner of Gardens by Elena in Briarcliff Manor.

Plant some herbs! Liven up your patio by planting some herbs in planters. Think oregano, tarragon and lavender. “Herbs are a good idea since you are going to want to use them so you tend to pay more attention to them,” says DeLuca. “You are more likely to water them and then take what you need for cooking. You can also incorporate herbs and flowers into the same planter.”

A garden on your deck. “Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce will thrive in a little garden on your deck,” says DeLuca. “You need sun, but these are pretty easy to grow.” Be sure to use organic soil and clay pots, rather than plastic, for anything you’re going to eat.

Window box wonders. A good rule of thumb for a window box, says Sadler, is “something that thrills” (an upright element like red-twigged dogwood), “something that fills” (like boxwood), and “something that spills” (a hanging element, such as an ivy of some kind). “You want contrast in a window box, and you also want scale,” he explains. “You don’t want it to be overflowing but you don’t want it to be empty either.” Plant your window box pretty much how you want it to look, he says. “It will fill in some, but not too much,” he adds.

A splash of color. A croton makes a beautiful inside plant, advises Sadler. “The leaf itself has a multitude of colors,” he says. “As soon as you get it home from the store, repot it.” Make sure the pot you transfer it to has drainage holes and a saucer underneath to catch water. “And don’t put it into a huge pot or it can become dry.”
Hanging plants or plant stands. “House plants are nice when there is an exuberance,” says Sadler. “They look full and lush.” Before you buy, read the plant tags for light requirements. Consider getting a color boost in your house with planters. “Choose one that is a very deep blue or celadon,” suggests Sadler.

Plant for pollinators. This is a big trend right now, says Kupka. “You will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and these are nice to look at when you are sitting outside sipping tea and visiting with your friends,” she says.

A raised garden. If you’re not into bending and stooping, a waist-high raised bed is the way to go because you can easily seed, weed, and harvest. Even a bed that is two inches off the ground will be easier on your back, advises Kupka. “It’s so much easier to care for. You can have a beautiful garden but it’s not hard to maintain.”

It’s easy to see how you can bring the beauty of a garden into your home (or nearby) with these simple suggestions. For more advice, visit one of the experts named here or your local nursery.

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