Landscape Design Tips, The Importance of Soil & Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!

I am a Cottage Gardener through and through~ I love the free form it allows me to have… the natural flow that occurs with time… the feel that everything has been there forever.  Cottage gardens just seem happy and inviting to me~ they seem to say, ‘go ahead & pick a bouquet.. take it in the house, smell it…  gaze upon it’s beauty and wonder…’  Daisies, lupines, delphiniums and roses are just a few of the Cottage Gardens blooms that abound. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain how to do other garden types.  I believe your heart becomes a part of your garden over time, it calls out to you each time you pass by and invites you in like an old friend.  Landscaping can be fun and exciting, filled with anticipation of what each year will bring, what news plants will be added, new walkways, arbors… Enjoy your gardens and be one with it, it will bring you years of peaceful abundance.

There are several aspects to consider when considering your Landscape Design. These elements will effect the outcome quite drastically and need to be planned well in advance. 
*First make your Plan~  Walk through your yard and break it into three basic areas~1. Public Spaces- your front yard and driveway; these should be neat and organized; 2. Private Spaces- patios, pools areas and children’s play areas; these spaces allow for your personal creativity; 3. Utility Spaces- garbage cans, propane tanks, central air units, firewood piles and such- be practical when planning these areas. For instance, you don’t want to walk across your entire yard in the winter when you want to get some firewood 🙂
*Decide what your Personal Taste is~ this is probably going to be the easiest step in my opinion, unless of course you are not a gardener at heart and simply want a yard that is esthetically appealing to the eye and don’t really care about personal expression.  If this is the case, I would recommend going to a book store that has gobs of magazines; look at the covers of all the gardening magazine and see what catches your eye; decide what you like and then purchase several in that category of gardening;  what is your budget? what is your time limit to maintenance?
*Take into consideration the Style of your home when choosing your garden style.  You wouldn’t want to put a formal English garden with an old Victorian home.
*Blueprint your yard~  you don’t have to be an architect to do this.  You can actually purchase kits at garden centers to aid you, or do as I do, just take a pad of paper and rough draw your entire property or just the area in which you want to do the landscaping.  Take into consideration where all shade, all sun and partial shade/sun areas are located.  This will make a big difference in the plants that you finally choose.  Jot down where trees, fences, ditches, buildings, sidewalks, driveways, etc. are located. 
* Make a Plan of Action~ take time to develop your blueprint and plan.  Most well done gardens are a work in progress that require time and patience, not to mention funds! Decide on all the elements that you want to incorporate into the landscape and then decide what is the most practical thing to start with.  You will more than likely be incorporating hard scape elements into the design with the plants and maybe some garden art. These would include walkways, pergola’s, patios, pools, arbors and trellises. Also bird baths, sun dials, statues and any other ‘art’ you want.
*Choosing the plants will be another big decision.  You will need to decide on trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.  This will need to be decided upon once you choose your style.
*When deciding on the Layout, if you choose to incorporate paths, make them winding if at all possible; this adds interest and creates a feeling of anticipation as to what is coming up around the bend.  This obviously is not possible in all yards, so a way to create that feel is in your flower beds.  Instead of making a straight line edge for your beds, put curves in them to create interest.  It is amazing how this creates a natural flow that is appealing to the on lookers eye.
Different things to consider when planning:
~ do you want a veggie & herb garden?
~ do you want shrubs and trees that require little pruning
~ do you want flowering or evergreen shrubs & trees? or a mixture of both.
~ take into consideration all four seasons when choosing your plants.
~ be sure to look at growth patterns- maturity height & width, shade or sun, dry or wet, etc.

Designing and planning your garden is the fun part of gardening, but there is another very important element that is the Key to Success~ your Soil.  The following information was found and adapted from “Michigan Gardener” magazine, April 2012 issue on page 9.
“Soil is comprised of three materials: sand, clay, and loam.  The best soil has equal parts of all three.  Problems arise when there is too much of one material. Sandy soil is too loose and drains too quickly… Clay soil is too hard when dry, repelling water and making it difficult for roots to grow. When wet, it holds too much water, leading to root rot….  Spending a little time becoming familiar with the soil type in your backyard will greatly improve your gardening success.  If you need help, bring a sample into your local garden center and an expert will help you determine your soil type….  You’re not necessarily stuck with the soil you’re given.  Adding amendments will help create a rich, loamy composition that’s a great environment for plants to thrive.  For sandy soil, add organic matter, such a peat moss or compost, to give it more texture add water holding properties.  To break up clay soil, add gypsum, pine bark fines or ceramic pellets.  It is also important to know your soil’s pH as well as nutrient composition before applying fertilizers…. Tests are available for about $20….”
There is much information to be had on this topic that I wouldn’t have time to get into here.  I would advise you to get a soil sample done and get your soil prepped for maximum benefits.
Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!
Here is yet anther way to use Taylor’s awesome pancake mixes! Be sure to pick one up at the market!

1 Package of Taylor’s Bake Shoppe Regular Pancake Mix.  Follow package instructions for 1 recipe.
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple, cored, peeled, quartered, grated and divided
sugar for sprinkling
butter for melting to fry in

1. Make batter according to package instructions adding the cinnamon.
2. On a heated skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter; sprinkle 1/2 tsp. sugar on top of melted butter; add 1 Tbsp. grated apple on top of this.
3. Immediately pour 1/4 cup of batter over top of apple, sugar & butter; cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and continue to fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden.
Serve warm with maple syrup , butter and whipped cream.

Happy Day,