Pat Colbert admittedly acknowledges that she knew little, if anything, about perennials before she caught the gardening bug after retirement. Today, however, Colbert is now a member of a local garden club and enjoys creating a landscape that is inviting yearround.
“Before I retired, I really did not have much of anything in my yard,” said Colbert, who enjoys gardening with her husband, Bill, at their Evans home. “That was about 7 years ago. It was about 6 years ago that I joined the Magnolia Garden Club and since then I have been adding all sorts of different flowers to our yard.”
Colbert said most of the plants are in the backyard of their home and said there are roughly 100 different kinds of flowers and shrubs in her yard. One plant that she enjoys is the Gerbera daisy, often referred to as Gerbers.
“Gerbers catch your attention right away in the home centers during spring,” said Colbert. “They are so bright and bold. I did not know much about them when I bought my first ones. I didn’t even know what a perennial was, to be honest. But, the gerbers really liked the area that I put them in and I have a good stand of them that come back year after year.”
Colbert’s Gerbers prefer regular watering and a place that is shaded during the hottest part of the day.
“I have found them to enjoy the cooler weather better than the mid-summer,” she said. “So they are more showy during the spring and fall. By the time they scale back, the black-eyed Susans or day lilies are doing their thing, so there is almost always something blooming in the backyard.”
While the Gerbers die back in cooler temperatures, Colbert said she doesn’t remove the leaves. Instead, she lets them fall to the ground, where they will provide protection to the roots.
“When I begin to see new growth come up in the spring, I will take all of the dead stuff, some still attached, and tear it off of the plant,” she explained. “The Gerbers seem to really take off then. I do occasionally deadhead, but when I do, I spread the seed heads around the base of the plant, which may be why some of my older plants are bigger.”
As with all gardens, there’s usually an errant plant that ends up in a place not originally planned. For Colbert, that would be a Gerber that grows among the liriope along her driveway.
“It gets the full sun and will send out several lovely long-stemmed red daisies until it gets into the 100s,” she said. “I think the liriope must shield its root system, but the two just survive together quite well.”
Despite repeated attempts to remove the Gerber and plant it elsewhere, the roots have blended with the liriope and it’s impossible to remove it.
Colbert uses Miracle Grow fertilizer and adds compost from her compost pile to her beds in early spring. Otherwise, the Colbert yard is pesticide free.
“Because we love the bees, the hummers and other birds, our yard is a pesticide free zone,” she said. “If we see a weed, we try to pull it out. So far, this has worked well for us.”