In Foraged Flower Arranging: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Stunning Arrangements from Local, Wild Plants, Rebekah Clark Moody shows readers almost 40 ways readers can enhance and brighten their homes with the natural beauty found in their backyard. The book provides step-by-step instructions for each arrangement and offers tips on how readers can make the arrangements their own. The following is from Chapter 8, "A Horticultural Guide for Beginners."
There are certain things that are nice to have access to at all times. Stepping outside your front door and being able to cut botanicals is glorious. I have a terrible habit of compulsively buying plants for my cutting garden, but often not finding time to plant them or the proper place for them to thrive. Discovering the science behind your land is vital in a healthy cutting garden. While there are many plants that flourish without much love or support, it still takes time for them to grow and survive a regular trimming.
There are four important things to keep in mind if you desire to plant: soil, light, water and climate. To start, only a basic knowledge is necessary.
Soil can be either acidic or alkaline. Too much of either does not lend well to a plant's development. It is the Goldilocks Paradox; it is important to find soil that is "just right." While we do see plants that thrive without any assistance, this is not always the norm.
Each plant also has certain nutrient needs, just like humans do. Too much or too little of one nutrient will cause health issues in the plant. The basic nutrients that are tracked in the soil are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK). Their functions can be easily remembered with this trick: up, down and all around. The nitrogen helps the plants sprout (up). The phosphorus helps the plant build a strong root network (down). Lastly, the potassium helps the plant grow, allowing plenty of foraging opportunities (all around). Kits can be purchased at your local gardening store to test the soil at your home. There are also options to get your soil tested professionally, through an agricultural lab. When you know the state of your soil, you can then talk to your local garden nursery about what types of amendments are needed.
Each plant has a required amount of light it prefers to get on a daily basis, and most nurseries have that listed on the plant or have knowledgeable employees who will gladly help guide you in the right direction. Typically, the amount of light a plant needs can be broken into four categories. Plants that need full sun require over six hours of direct sunlight, preferably between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Those that need partial sun require between three to six hours of direct sunlight. Plants that require dappled sun need filtered sunlight, typically through the leaves of a tree or larger shrub. Shade-loving plants cannot get more than three hours of sunlight a day or they will begin to scorch. Monitoring your yard or desired garden spot can be challenging due to the sun shifting throughout the year, but looking for the average is all that is required.
This is self-explanatory, but making sure a plant gets the right amount of moisture is crucial, especially in the beginning of its life. While both underwatered and overwatered plants can look similar at first glance, a closer look will reveal the true state of the plant. If the plant is underwatered, the soil around it will be dry and the leaves crispy. If the plant is overwatered, the soil will be overly damp, and the leaves will be soft and limp. This can lead to root rot, which can ultimately kill the plant.
Excerpted with permission from Foraged Flower Arranging, by Rebekah Clark Moody. Published by Page Street Publishing, © 2017.
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