On August 28th, at our Autumn Project Preview Event, each and every guest was entered into a drawing for a Swansons Autumn Garden Makeover. Our lucky winner - we'll call her Joy - was elated to hear that she would receive not only $1000 in Swansons plants and products, but help from start to finish: from an initial site visit to design consultation to prep, planting, and advice about care and maintenance.
It was an amazing experience for all involved and we wanted to share it with you, too! We documented the process from start to finish, so here's an inside look at an autumn garden makeover à la Swansons.
Editor's note: all photos by Shawn Herron
Step 1: the site visit
Armed with shovels, measuring wheels, cameras and lots of enthusiasm, we descended on Joy's garden for an initial site visit. She showed us around her already lovely yard and we talked about her style, preferences and needs. It turns out, Joy had been thinking about what to do with the four beds in her front yard for some time and had attended the Preview Event to gather inspiration and advice.
She had some treasured plants, some not-so-treasured ones, and a lot of empty space that she wanted to fill with color, foliage and flowers that would add beauty and interest to the garden all year long.
Step 2: collaboration and design
With a list of her color and style preferences (yes to colorful flowers and bulbs, no to hydrangeas and more heather...) and a better idea of the makeover site, Alex LaVilla, our veteran Perennials Buyer and all-around plant expert, went to work creating a customized plant list for Joy to consider. She came to the nursery for a private tour of these possibilities with Alex as tour guide, landscape designer and expert advisor.
Our most important goal was to make Joy a beautiful garden that she loved and could care for, so the process of plant selection was vital. Alex worked with Joy until they had a final list of plants. He then started designing, with the idea of four unique garden beds creating a harmonious whole.
One of Joy's requests was for an outdoor, layered bulb container. Our man in annuals - James - helped Joy choose a beautiful ceramic container and layered a wide variety of flowering bulbs at different depths so that they will be showcased throughout spring and summer! For autumn and winter interest, he planted a central Carex grass surrounded by winter-hardy pansies.
Step 3: prep work and layout
We enlisted the help of two of our best Swansons gardeners: Priciliano and Bladimiro (the men behind our newly replanted parking strip). They enlarged and evened-out the beds, dug in compost, removed some plants and moved others to new spots that were better suited to their needs and Joy's preferences.
For example, Joy had saved a rose from her mother's garden and planted it in her own many years before. Unfortunately, the rose wasn't doing very well and Joy was worried that it might not survive. Alex determined that the best option would be to move the rose to a sunnier spot, giving it a better chance to thrive.
After the major prep work was done, we brought the plants over for their own site visit, laying them out - still in their pots - to see the effect and be sure we had the quantity and variety we wanted. This, of course, necessitated some last-minute changes - all in the course of a large planting project.
Step 4: planting
After all this planning, the planting was smooth sailing, especially with Alex, Priciliano and Bladimiro at the helm. We even got lucky weather-wise, with the torrential downpours holding off until we were nearly finished. Perfect timing, really. The new plantings got an extra-deep watering over the next few days.
Step 5: enjoying the garden
We want Joy to enjoy her garden all year long and that means knowing how to care for it. We'll be there to answer her questions and we're here to answer all of your questions as well. Ask us in person, over the phone, and on social media.
Also, see our list of favorite gardening websites on the blog homepage and don't forget to peruse the plant care sheets on Swansons website. Find information on a wide variety of gardening subjects, from choosing plants, to planting and care.
Congratulations Joy!!! We had a fabulous time working with you during your Autumn Garden Makeover! Be sure to take a little time each day to enjoy your new garden :)