Ah! Spring’s bloom is with us. That means gardens, all kinds of gardens. We all claim our favorites. And some of us claim more than one kind. All require work from simply potting plants to plowing a vegetable garden, all give pleasure. For residents of north Georgia we are fortunate in that there are so many businesses to choose from, whose friendly owners provide the items we need to grow our vegetable and flower gardens, and to decorate our fanciful ones like the popular fairy gardens or our patios large or small. After reading about the creative ideas here you may want to take a day trip to visit them all and create your own dream garden.
Gardening with Ace Hardware: All the Way!
There are gardens and there are gardens: vegetable and flower gardens, and both of them done organically, as well. There are large and small gardens; there are patio gardens, and container gardens. Everything you’ll need to complete your project can be found at ACE Hardware in Ellijay. They supply everything from tools, to soil preparation, to plants, landscape materials, and even advice. For 12 years, Bob Wright has operated the Garden Center at ACE and he’s there to help gardeners of all levels. He knows his business— and his products— and can make experience backed recommendations based on your needs.
Wright suggests starting with a soil test, which can be done at your local University of Georgia’s Agriculture (UGA) Cooperative Extension. Once you’ve determined the condition, you can prepare the soil as needed. ACE carries a wide variety of fertilizers, compost and soil conditioners for any use. While top soil is a good filler, Wright does not recommend that it be used on it’s own. Nature’s Helper Soil Conditioner is good for trees, and shrubs (advice ½ bag per fruit tree). For the smallest of gardens in pots, he suggests that you use potting soil, along with Miracle Grow Moisture control.
Trees love mushroom compost. For Organic compost, use one cubic foot per tree. Peat moss is nothing short of a gift for the organic gardener and landscaper. It has amazing water-retention abilities, easily retaining more than 10 times its weight in moisture. This noticeably reduces the amount of watering the gardener would normally have to do. That same ability to absorb and retain moisture enables peat moss to also retain important nutrients within the soil, making for healthier, hardier plantings.
ACE Hardware carries local distributor’s fruit trees: eight varieties of apple, four of peach, Bruce plum, and Bartlett pear. Wright says that the fruit trees usually sell out, so get yours early.
ACE carries most plant materials for the average backyard gardener. There’s a large selection of annuals and perennials including herbs, vegetables, shrubs, bedding plants, hanging baskets—and one of Bob Wright’s favorites—”toe-ticklers,” plants that are fill-ins between paving stones such as creeping Jenny and creeping Thyme. He also is partial to Coral Bells, Heuchera sanguinea, a perennial plant that lasts through winter and comes in a variety of foliage colors. (Editor’s note- I plan on buying these from ACE for my home cabin!)
Wright also suggests using three inches of mulch to keep in moisture and protect roots. ACE Hardware carries Cypress mulch, Pine bark mulch/ nuggets, Red bark mulch/nuggets; one is not considered better than the other, it’s simply up to your design preference. He adds that any colored mulch should hold its color about two years.
If you’re looking for bagged decorative rock, ACE offers several types: drainage rock, lava rock, river pebbles and egg rock, to mention a few. For larger projects that require hardscaping materials you’ll find railroad ties for retaining walls, 6X6″ pressure treated lumber to build your raised beds, and more. Whatever your gardening needs, Bob Wright and ACE Hardware are there to help.
305 Main St., Ellijay, GA 30540
706. 635. 2236 Acehardware.com
House and Garden Boutique: The Perfect Patio Garden
As soon as you drive up to the House and Garden Boutique, you realize that the owner knows something about creative patio gardening. The walkway leading up to a charming house (that is filled with many things beautiful) is an instant giveaway that patios and porches help make a home more than just a roof over the head. Owner Lynn Paterson tells you why: She explains that a patio garden is a great option for apartment dwellers or couples who have downsized, “Even if you don’t have a deck or a poured concrete slab outside your door, you can create a simple patio garden space with just a few bags of river rock pebbles and sand. Add a couple of benches, small tables, potted plants, yard art and you’re good to go!
“And almost anything goes! Mix and match textures and colors for an inviting and interesting look. For instance, incorporate both iron and concrete pots. Adding unusual items such as old window frames or doors and brightly painted birdhouses give an eclectic, cozy feel.”
Paterson notes that for a truly singular look the best ideas can be obtained by gathering items from thrift stores, garden and flea markets. She suggests transforming an old chair into a flower pot holder. Just imagine it with trailing petunias! Viola! A terrific designer look.
Though many of Paterson’s customers are very precise and know exactly what they want to do with an area she’s always ready to help customers who come in looking for guidance in how to create a “wow” garden or patio look. She also points out that when a customer brings in a photo of the area they want to design, it helps greatly in the process.
If your patio is enclosed, this gives you a whole new area to work with, walls! Picture climbing vines hanging wall art and lighting. Choose from glazed or unglazed ceramic, wrought iron and vintage items. Again, try mixing and matching colors, textures, old and new items.
Are you designing on a budget? One of her “how to” tips is this, “If you already have a large ceramic patio urn, you can turn that into a fountain by adding a small pond base to it, a pump and a hose.” She also notes that potted plants and ledge rock, or any property rock you may have, are excellent cover-ups for the fountain base.
Paterson strives to help customers avoid needless mistakes. Scale in the patio garden is all-important, and placing the right size décor or focal point element can make all the difference. “Too small can get lost in the plants, too large can be overwhelming. Consider color and the shape of your plants and your décor, and how you want to combine them to get the style your aiming for.
Don’t be afraid to take a leap of creative faith and go with something out of the ordinary,” she reminds. And though she makes notice of funky items like old window frames and headboards as garden art, she also stocks a selection of Adirondack chairs, hand-painted pots, garden flags and birdhouses to set off any garden. This might be the year to try something completely different, and why not? After all House and Garden celebrates 10 years of successful business in the same location. Just look for big Adirondack chair in the front yard on Main Street in downtown Woodstock.
House and Garden Boutique,
103 Bowles Drive,
Woodstock, GA 30188
678. 494. 5800
Mountain Ridge Garden Shop: The Enchanted World of Fairy Gardening
Welcome to the hottest gardening craze on the planet: fairy gardening. It is everything you love about gardening only smaller!! Believing in the magic of fairies is just the beginning. Fairies are magical creatures that live in your garden and bring good luck, prosperity and good health to a chosen few whose gardens they inhabit. They are playful creatures that enjoy a good prank and frolic about your gardens with glee when you’re not looking. Gardeners can expect a little mischief in the garden after a night filled with fairy dancing and shenanigans. Rest assured this is all in good fairy fun and to let you know they are in your garden, making sure your plants will flourish and to protect humans from illness, danger and stress. How do you get these wonderful creatures to live in my garden you ask? Build them a place to frolic!!!!
A fairy garden can be any size or shape. You can build on the ground or in a container. It can be nestled against the trunk of a tree or stump, in and around a group of rocks or boulders, the corner of the deck where nothing else seems to fit. You can add in fairy-wooing features to one of your garden beds to entice them to live there.
These are just a few ideal locations to start planning your fairy-fun garden. Wherever you decide to build your garden make sure to choose the right plants for your location. Do you have full sun, full shade or is it mixed? How big do you want those plants to grow? Herbs work well in small gardens and so do Sedums and groundcovers. Using small gravel or mulch in the garden also enhances the fairy-families living space as well. After you choose your plants, then it’s time to decorate. All fairies need a place to hang out. They need things like tables and chairs or maybe a fire pit to dance around in the evenings. Use your imagination. You can use things that you would normally toss– just think, how would a fairy use that? Things like wine corks for stools and bottle caps for stepping stones. Don’t forget about a house. All fairies need a place to hide. Seek out those tiny birdhouses or that really cool jar that you just can’t seem to throw away. You can even use those broken tea cups or saucers. Use small dishes or ashtrays for pools for a fairy’s midnight swim. The creativity is endless. Invite those fairies to your garden. What are you waiting for??
At Mountain Ridge Garden Shop you’re sure to find the special touch of magic for your garden. In fact, you can discover it all, as you browse through the garden selections you might be persuaded that a fairy tossed some of her dust around because so many of the choices seem so magical.
Mountain Ridge Garden Shop
746 River St., Ellijay, GA 30540
706. 698. 2815
Woodstock Market: Reclaimed Vintage Art & Materials
Reclaimed Vintage Art & Materials. What visions do those words conjure up for you? Woodstock Market experts note that the scope of vintage art is broad: primitive, Early American, Victorian– and all the way to industrial farm. The ambiance created “Gives it a personal touch, and takes you back in time,” says owner Karen Bennett.
Tying modern with vintage and still remaining relevant by avoiding the plastic look is all about what makes the gardener happy ” Fusing the two,” as Bennett notes, “we have seen the old and the new come together in amazing ways.” However, to start, the advice you’ll get at Woodstock Market is to start with one-you-can’t-live-without piece—and build from there.
For gardeners who know that they want the vintage look but haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about it, and not end up with an old junky look rather than an “ooh” and “aah” look, how do they do it? Bennett explains that strategy, planning, and vision are keys to developing what you want. If you like tropical, an iron carriage won’t work. Nor will a totem pole for an English garden. Internet Pinterest and Google garden styles/garden themes can supply ideas of what will grow and look best in your area. Also, check your landscaping selection’s full growth size. Bennett adds, “You don’t want your plantings to grow and overwhelm/outshine your art objects. The pairing must fit both short and long term. Then, come to Woodstock Market to merge what works in your patch of ground—and what you love to look at in vintage garden art.”
Does vintage art fit in with any size garden? “Yes, indeed,” Bennett urges, “from the tiniest piece, under a small planter to a focal point such as an iron headboard for a Wisteria trail. Yes! Woodstock Market chooses to not define garden art for others. The reason may sound cliché, but it’s true, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Choices are endless; however one example that the store’s associates point out is a customer, who used a child’s Victorian swing, hung, amidst a cut-flower garden and displayed industrial containers as planters for bright and beautiful flowers. As Bennett says, “The rules for gardens today is that there are no rules. We encourage customers to savor this trend where there is lack of convention—and do what they love. We have seen things work fabulously well with the right planning. One word of caution though is that if you live in a location under the auspices of a Home Owners Association aka Yard Police, check first before you make a big purchase, especially for the front yard. AC
5500 Bells Ferry Rd.
Acworth, GA 30102