Gardening with Micki: Advice from a landscape pro for a winning garden | Lifestyles

Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting two long-time Oklahoma City friends for lunch at my home — John Fluitt and Terry Zinn. John designed the landscape plan for my back garden. It was his wedding gift when I married the Rev. Tom Shelton in 2012.

I’ll never forget how John stood in the middle of that garden’s barren space with only one sickly tree. He sighed “Oh my! Oh my!” Last Wednesday, John was pleased to see a garden now so lush, it’s bordering on overgrown.

When the Muskogee Garden Club hosted a tour at several local homes/gardens a few years ago, John came to be available to answer any landscape questions guests might have. I also invited him to speak to the Muskogee Master Gardeners at a meeting at Honor Heights’ Papilion several years ago. One sentence about gardening — and what to grow in Oklahoma — and an audience knows he is definitely a garden/landscaping expert.

John’s friend, Terry, has created a garden that’s an excellent example of small space gardening. It’s a treat to sit on his deck and see his garden in progress. His hostess gift that day was a jar of pesto — all ingredients were from his garden. The jar was much too small.

John first looks at garden spaces with an architect’s precision. I still treasure the exquisite plan he created for our barren back lawn — moles included! I don’t wander too far from his plan.

During lunch, I couldn’t resist asking John: “What mistakes do people make by not following a professional landscaper’s advice?”  

John called his partner, Roger Runge, to join the conversation. Here’s their advice:

• Not coordinating the garden’s color scheme to complement the home.

• Not understanding how much maintaining a garden requires.

• Not considering how seasonal changes affect gardens.

• Not having a garden plan in mind before calling a landscape designer.

• Not nurturing a freshly planted newcomer — a baby — to your garden with adequate food and water.

John’s final advice: Not following the seven principles of garden design: repetition, rhythm, continuity harmony, scale, choice of colors, choice of materials.

John also adds: “Don’t believe just because your plant came from a flower market it will thrive. That’s the buyer’s responsibility.”

Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.

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