Winnowing Your Plants

Brandon Brooks

When I first started with gardening, I wanted to try and plant everything that I could in my new garden. Of course, there wasn’t enough room for everything so I had to make some hard decisions. There are certain plants that tend to grow better in specific areas and ones that will spread into areas not designated for them. Some of the plants would produce offshoots that would take a lot of my time and energy to manage. Because of this, I have had to do something that is very difficult for me: Winnowing.

Over the years, I have planted quite an array of plants. I love adding diversity to my gardens. It is not only pleasing to the eye, but it attracts in more diverse animals for us to watch, one of my favorite things to do. Now, though, I am to the point where I want to reduce the amount of time I need to spend keeping my landscape up so I can spend more time actually enjoying it.

When you winnow plants, you choose ones that have proven themselves over and over again by multiplying themselves and increasing their visual impact. You also, during this time, must get rid of plants that are dying or just barely making it. Ones that tend to kill off your other plants will likely need to go too.

I recently read a strategy on planting that seems to satisfy my need for diversity in my landscape. It is a strategy that calls for mood setting in the garden by simplifying the structure of the plants and using signature plants to amplify the impact. The diversity mostly comes in the understory of the landscaping. The ground cover plants will help to control erosion and runoff, provide habitats to wildlife and insects, and bolster the stability of the natural community.

Hopefully, through the process of winnowing, my landscape will look nicer than ever and I will have less work to do to keep it that way.