Wednesday January 15 2014

Get creative with the space outside the house in 2014

Doing something as simple as placing stones on

Doing something as simple as placing stones on the dirt path (right) or growing the same of the plants in your garden elsewhere can transform your compound. Photos by Constance Obonyo  


According to a Bible proverb, there is always wisdom in a multitude of counsellors. Below, Charles Akanga, information technologist, resident of Najjanankumbi and an avid gardener, offers some counsel on gardening for 2014.
1. Aim for colour contrasts

Contrasting colours always make interesting viewing.
Since flowers come in different colours, I aim at having contrasting colours next to each other to create bold displays.
The colour in a maroon rose would look more majestic next to a deep yellow rose, for example.

2.Consider fragrances
Add another level of enjoyment to your garden by considering fragrant plants. Of course, not everyone appreciates scents. Some people are allergic to them. Choose what works for you.
Some plants, like the Night Queen waft pleasant scents into homes at night, while others like citrus trees can scent the garden even during the day. There are fragrant plants for most preferences.

3.Incorporate trees and shrubs
Most people think of flowerbed plants first when planning their gardens, but trees and shrubs can fill a garden better. And they do not need much maintenance either. Choosing those with colourful leaves is a good trick. Giving them unique shapes is another.

Variegated-leafed trees like the Weeping Fig (ficus benjamina) and shrubs with colourful leaves like the Copper Leaf (acalypha wilkesiana macrophylla) are cases in point.

4.Balance your materials
It is tempting to concentrate on the plants and forget your hardscapes (landscape frames like flower bed borders). But the uniqueness of your garden will depend on how you manoeuvre your hardscapes.

I tried to cover up a dirt path in my compound with stones. The stones were not many, so I scattered them on the path two months ago. Many have set into the ground and tufts of grass have come up in-between. This is something that was impossible two months ago.’

5.Experiment with repetition
My garden has a mix of everything everywhere. It is not planned. When I find something I like, I look for a place to plant it. But it can also look messy. I have discovered that if you grow the same plant elsewhere in terms of variety, colour or even shape, it makes for a more unified look. If you have plants that produce suckers, this should be easy to achieve.

So, others have made the mistakes, learnt from them and shared the lessons. All you have to do now is implement the advice for a smarter garden this year.