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Spring Wonders
Text Copyright  © 2001 Rebecca Sawyer-Fay. All rights reserved.
Photograph Copyright  © 2000 Rob Cardillo. All rights reserved.

"Everyone wants that 'wow' effect," notes Judy Glattstein. "But how, exactly, do you get it?" After a lifetime both in the garden and the classroom (as an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden's Continuing Education Department and for their School of Professional Horticulture), Judy is more than able to answer that question in her own Zone 6 landscape. Partnerships are the key, she maintains. "A garden should consist of plants put together so they look better than any single plant would look by itself.""sHe says. Dynamic duos she recommends include variegated Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata') paired with white impatiens and yellow Erythronium americanum positioned alongside lavender twinleaf (Jeffersonia dubia). Also important is quantity. "Plant more." She counsels. Better yet, "Choose species that self-sow or multiply on their own." Perennials such as red lungwort (Pulmonaria rubra) and Hylomecon japonicum and bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus spp.), Chionodoxa, and Anemone blanda are good examples. Even in a small garden, grand gestures, achieved through drifts of color or form, succeed far better than small statements. Furthermore, it pays to seek out plants that are less common. "There are a zillion wonderful bulbs and perennials out there," Judy insists. "Why plant the same things every year? Exploring new plants is a lot more interesting." Among the "neglected natives" she champions are squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis), Dutchman's breeches (D. cucullaria) and doogtooth violet (Erythronium americanum). Finally, all the interesting flowers in the world won't help a garden succeed if the plants are not healthy. "A Chinese proverb tells us, 'The best fertilizer in the land is the owner's footsteps.' And it's true. If you get close to your plants and listen to them, they'll tell you what they want, either through the color of their foliage, or the way they nod their heads or drop their leaves."

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