Thanksgiving in our Gardens

11/20/2014 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Container Gardens, Flowers, Landscaping, Pruning, Tips

Thanksgiving is just days away, family and friends are ready to gather, and landscapes are dormant, bare, and almost ugly. But they don’t have to be that way if we keep in mind that the eye naturally is drawn to any touch of beauty, a phenomenon known as the “oasis effect”. With landscapes dormant and void of vibrant beauty, anything that outshines drab surroundings will be the first thing the eye notices.

The Lain casa is expecting family, including returning college students, from around the country to land in Prescott beginning on Wednesday. Indoors our home is ready for the fun sure to ensue. Even the hot tub has been cleaned, its water changed and ready for action! After last week’s storm, the drab front landscape doesn’t begin to complement the inside of the house. If that’s the case with your home, the tips below are based on my experience and can help you give a cosmetic boost to your Thanksgiving landscape.

There are two types of garden styles, informal or natural gardens, and the formal style, a perfectly primped garden. The informal style, sort of left to itself, morphs best into a rustic mountain landscape, but for this time of year I tease my informal landscape with a bit of a formal garden’s treatment.

Dahlia killed by frostDo not subject your yard to too much cleanup until after the New Year. Heavy pruning in my own yard takes place between the New Year and Easter, but this week everything received a ‘haircut’. Ours is not a truly formal landscape, but deciduous plants without all their leaves and flowers need to be made neater and shapelier. Plants aren’t perfectly sheared, just snipped to look definitely tidier than they had been. The thyme lawn got its biannual mowing, so it’s ready to greet our guests.

Don’t go crazy with this light pruning! Roses prefer to have their hips left on the bush through the month of January. Any new plantings need the added insulation that comes by leaving much of the branch structure intact. In my gardens I snipped away the wild tree branch that was sporting long, head-banging limbs. Anything that intruded on the walkways was pruned back and dead summer plants were pulled out and dumped.

I’ll keep the fountains and pond running until after the festivities, and then they will be drained. True, my gardens don’t have their usual summer luster, but they are inviting. So much so, that neighbors were commenting how beautiful the yard was. I want our Thanksgiving guests to say the same.

Pumpkin in pot with mumsMost summer plants were wiped out by last week’s storm. So, I replaced several of my containers with some unusually large pumpkins harvested from our garden.

Like colorful pumpkins, strategically placed pots of pretty winter plants also create that “oasis effect” at the front door, and on a deck or patio. Concentrations of beauty, whether pumpkins or containers of winter-blooming plants, cut through the seasonal drabness and offer a warm welcome to our Thanksgiving guests. This is why so many ‘Porch Pots’ find new homes just before Thanksgiving.

Porch pots are containers of flowers that are designed to be placed beside doorways and keep their good looks right through winter. If you are not cooking the family turkey this year, but are one of many guests contributing a side dish, an inexpensive porch pot makes an excellent host/hostess gift.

Pansy containerThis is an exciting time at garden centers as stocks transition from autumn-colored trees to the exciting varieties of holiday plants. Already the first crops of poinsettias and Christmas cacti have arrived; they will be followed the day after Thanksgiving with the first crop of cut trees. There is nothing like the fragrance of freshly cut Christmas trees. Can hardly wait!

Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or Facebook page .