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GardenSMART :: Five Inspiring Sources of Gardening Ideas

Five Inspiring Sources of Gardening Ideas

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners

Winter is an ideal time of year to plan for next season's garden, and your best new idea might be closer than you think. Let's explore where we can find inspiration that will help us dream up and plan next year's garden.

Let's go idea hunting! If you are anything like me, after a much-needed rest this winter, thoughts of spring will slowly begin to creep back into your mind with full-blown spring fever taking over once the seed catalogs begin to arrive. Winter is the ideal time to do some research, learn more about current gardening topics, and find solutions for problem areas in your landscape.

Your first instinct may be to turn to the internet and start googling, and that certainly can be a tremendous resource if you know where to find reputable information. Let's look at five additional sources of inspiration and information you can seek out this winter in preparation for spring.

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Berry Poppins® winterberry (Ilex verticillata) glows in the landscape all winter long. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.

1.  Explore friends' gardens, botanical gardens and arboretums, and your own neighborhood

Your greatest source of inspiration for next year's garden might literally be right around the corner. Strap on your boots, hat, mittens and coat and go for a walk around your neighborhood or local botanical garden, noting what kinds of plants catch your eye. Take photos or write notes about things like trees that are just the right size for curbside plantings, shrubs with showy winter berries, ornamental grasses that look especially graceful in the snow, and anything else that stands out to you.

Schedule a winter garden walk with your local gardening friends to see which kinds of plants carry winter interest in their gardens. Make it a progressive tour with hot cocoa and cookie stops along the way. Then, add what you've learned to your gardening journal so you'll remember what to buy once garden centers open up again in spring.

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Plan to attend at least one gardening event or class this winter. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.

2. Attend winter gardening classes and events

Many local garden centers, public gardens, University Extension offices, and Master Gardener groups host gardening seminars during the winter months. Plan to attend at least one event nearby this winter, then write three things you learned that can apply to your own garden in your gardening journal as soon as you get home. Take note of important websites or blogs you learned of at the event, too. If you are a certified Master Gardener, be sure to track your hours and education credits from the events you attend.

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Winter is an ideal time to read about and research gardening topics that are important to you. Photo courtesy of Susan Martin.

3. Spend an afternoon in the gardening section of your local library or bookstore

Every year, new gardening books are published, and 2017 was another amazing year for gardening authors. Pictured are a few of my go-to resources on gardening topics that matter to me like shade gardening, supporting pollinators, making smarter gardening decisions, natives, and indoor plants. During these slower winter months, I'll be consulting these books as I write and plan for next season. What you don't see in this picture are the many colorful sticky notes I've added in each book to help me find key points back when I need them. (I hid them for the photo!)

I'm also a huge fan of used books, and seek them out whenever I travel or visit friends. Gardening advice has literally been passed down through the centuries, so who am I to discount an author's advice if it is a few years, or even decades, old?

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The annual Gardener's Idea Book from Proven Winners is available free upon request and can be viewed online. New gardening projects and concepts are presented in each edition. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.

4. Peruse the Gardener's Idea Book online or request a printed copy

Every year in late winter, Proven Winners publishes a free 36-page Gardener's Idea Book filled with all sorts of fun gardening ideas. You can request a printed copy or view it online. I like to save them from year to year and often find myself looking back at a topic I remember reading about a few years prior. I like that they publish detailed step-by-step instructions online for the DIY projects they feature in the book, too. They are handy to pull up on my iPad when I go to start a new project.

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Laura from Garden Answer offers practical advice and creative project ideas to her millions of fans through social media. She will keep you entertained all winter long! Photo courtesy of Garden Answer.

5. Watch Garden Answer videos online

Are you one of the millions of fans who follow Laura from Garden Answer online? You'll find her on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and her videos are often featured by Proven Winners, who is one of her sponsors.

Laura's creativity astounds me, and this girl really knows her stuff! That's because she was practically raised at her family's garden center in Oregon. Her style is totally down to earth and relatable. She'll be the first to admit when a project doesn't quite work out the way she had hoped, but most of them turn out spectacular. I'm inspired every time I watch a Garden Answer video, and think you will be too.   

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.


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