When cultivating a garden, Jess and Tony Zavaglia of Larchmont-based Zavaglia Associates say it’s important to know which planting zone you live in, as this will determine the native plant species you should choose and which plants will thrive in your area throughout the year. Westchester sits in Zone 6-7, which makes this time of year a “real sweet spot for cultivating many of our native plant species.”
“Dogwoods are native to our area and bring lovely early color to the yard and are a graceful specimen tree to serve as a focal point or backdrop to a garden,” say the Zavaglias. “Alliums are tall, adding some height variation to garden beds while providing visual interest and a touch of whimsy. Hydrangeas can be coaxed to bloom in different colors, depending on the pH of the soil, and are known for their long-showing blooms throughout the spring and summer. Lamb’s Ear is a beautiful low-lying plant that offers interesting texture and foliage, as do many of the native grasses that are popular in gardens, especially along the Sound Shore,” they say.
“For already established gardens, consider where you may have open spaces or large height differences and look for plants that will fill in,” say the Zavaglias. “Native grasses come in a variety of colors, textures, and heights and complement many different types of garden aesthetics. Annuals can provide pops of color and interest.”
The Zavaglias suggest you should define the goals for your yard before you visit a gardening center. Ask key questions, such as: Are you interested in planning a summer garden that peaks at a particular time, or do you prefer seasonal interest throughout the year? Do you have a favorite must-have flower or color?
The two agree: “Considering your priorities and establishing your goals early on will help guide you throughout your whole garden planning process — from your budget to your actual design.”
They liken approaching a garden design to assembling an orchestra. “Certain instruments will shine at their solo moments and then fade into a supporting role, while another solo instrument takes the lead. Selecting a palette of plants that can do both and peak at different times makes for a harmonious design that you will enjoy for the longest amount of time.”
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