Gardeners Mantra

Shane Cooper

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How many times have you planted a new plant, tree or bush hoping for a fully developed plant in no time? Many gardeners both seasoned and new love to see the fruits of their labor. However, many gardeners are impatient and wish for fast growth on short oder. For those that get frustrated waiting for that favored plant, tree of bush to take off, they often find themselves pulling up the plant, taking it back to their favorite nursery or throwing it away only to start over thinking they’ve done something to kill it or stunt it’s growth when often times, this isn’t the case.

What’s a gardener to do? Many who are trying to start a new area or add to an existing have to follow the gardeners mantra regardless of region or location in the country. While different locals offer different planting seasons and plant types that thrive in their respective area, all plants need a little time to get established and take off. It’s well known that all gardening and landscape work is based upon seasons and so is the growth potential for any plant, tree or bush.

So, what is the gardeners mantra?

Three steps to every plants success is this. First year SLEEP, second year CREEP and the third year LEAP. It’s that simple of a statement which basically says, you’ll need patience.

Stage One: First Year SLEEP
All plants, trees and shrubs initially go into a shocked state upon initial planting into a new location. Like any living organism, it’s ability to try and survive is innate and any plant has techniques to insure it lives on to produce. So, while a good gardener does everything possible to help the process through root stimulator and nutrients, the plant still has to go into a somewhat dormant state before getting fully established.

For the first year in a new garden, expect only to see the plant in the state that you planted it. Any leaves or flowers will look exactly like it did when you first took it out of the bucket and put it in the ground.

Stage Two: Second Year CREEP
Once the plant, tree or shrub makes it through the first cold season of fall and winter, it’s ready to start to change. The second year is when it starts to work on it’s foundation system, roots. This second year, more work is being done below ground to insure that future growth can be maintained and it’s feeding system is in tact. Second year growth on exposed plant material will be limited and therefore why it looks like it’s not doing much. It then “creeps" along on growth and takes it’s time getting use to it’s surroundings and environment.

Stage Three: Third Year LEAP
This is the year the gardener is rewarded with all of the hard work. Now that the plant, tree or shrub is established and has a strong foundation, it will literally leap into a major growth spurt. Knowing that all water and nutrients will make it to it’s extremities, it will flourish beyond your expectations and begin to bring forth the expected shade or flower to please the gardener who so painstakingly helped it along.

This is the good year as well as many good years to come. Every plants life cycle has great potential, but the third year and beyond is the time when every gardener gets the reward of the plant, tree or shrub they were expecting. Patience and time is the sub-mantra of the prepared gardener, but the main mantra every gardener should adopt is:

First Year SLEEP, Second Year CREEP and Third Year LEAP!

Shane Cooper runs theBackYard Retreat and offers advice in theBackyard Blog on the site. He and his wife have 20 plus years advice on successfully preparing a great backyard environment.


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