Monthly Archives: March 2024

Creating a Meditation Space in Your Garden

Gardening can be a relaxing, therapeutic hobby as you nurture seedlings, encourage growth and bring your harvest to fruition. But if you just want to take a moment to breathe, reflect and center yourself, it isn’t necessary to get out the garden clogs, sharpen your hand tools or get dirt under your fingernails. Creating a peaceful meditation space in your garden is easy, and can turn any garden into your own private sanctuary.

The Need for Peace

As our lives get ever busier with hectic schedules and cramped appointments, it may seem impossible to have any time for thoughtful reflection or meditation. Furthermore, smaller living spaces and more crowded urban areas can make it seem equally impossible to have any space for solitary peace. Without the ability to relax, we’re faced with skyrocketing stress in our lives, along with a host of different health problems such as tension headaches, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and more. More and more studies, however, are demonstrating that time spent in nature is beneficial for reducing stress and tension, and there’s no better place to easily enjoy nature than in your own garden.

Your Peaceful Purpose

Before creating your meditation space, you need to plan what you want to use it for in order to ensure you have enough room and all the right touches for your peaceful retreat. Meditation can mean something different to everyone – you might prefer a place for quiet, contemplative prayer, or you could be interested in an outdoor space for yoga practice. For some people, a restful space for coloring or painting is their ideal meditation spot, while others may want a natural niche for reading or journaling. Creating or listening to music may be part of your meditation practice, or even a cozy spot for an outdoor nap. Whatever means peace and relaxation to you, it can be incorporated into your garden.

Eliminating Distractions

Once you know how you will use a meditation space in your garden, it is essential to eliminate other distractions and interruptions from that space. Unwanted noises, glaring streetlights, unsavory sights and even unpleasant smells can interrupt meditation and disrupt your relaxation, but it is easy to plan your gardening to eliminate those difficulties. For example, a green wall or trellis can be used to block an unsightly view, and the plants on it will help muffle noises. You could also consider a small fountain for the soothing tinkle of running water to block traffic or neighborhood noises. Climbing, clinging vines can be used to cover structures with greenery to increase the natural feel of the space. Opt for arbors or pergolas that can help create comfortable shade and define the space without completely blocking sunlight, and consider fragrant flowers nearby if unwanted aromas are invading your garden.

Adding Joy to Your Garden Space

Once your meditation area is structured and distractions are minimized, it is time to add your own personal joy into the space. What brings joy to the space will vary from garden to garden and even from season to season, but it should be a personal choice and something that helps draw you into the space. Consider…

  • Seating
    In order to enjoy your meditation space, you will need a place to sit and relax within it. This may be a comfortable bench, a cozy chaise lounge, a soothing hammock or any other type of seating. A chair-sized boulder can be a natural alternative, or you may opt for a more whimsical swing to add a dash of fun to your personal space.
  • Sights
    You’ve taken steps to block sights you don’t want to see in your garden, but a good meditation space will also include sights you want to look at. A bird feeder or bird bath can invite beautiful feathered friends to share your space, or you might prefer a lovely piece of garden art, a gazing ball, plants in your favorite colors or even unique mulch or paving stones in a therapeutic pattern.
  • Sounds
    Pleasant sounds can help add a focal point to your meditation space, allowing you to focus on unique tones to help center yourself. A wind chime, waterfall fountain or even a way to bring your favorite music outdoors can be a wonderful addition to a peaceful meditation space.
  • Water
    Water can serve several purposes in a meditation space. Flowing or splashing water provides natural white noise, and the sparkles of the water are ideal for meditative gazing or creating soothing reflections. Consider different aquatic options, such as a small stream or brook, a weeping rock, a fountain or even a reflecting pool. You can even opt for a small pond for goldfish or koi if you desire.

Above all, remember that there are no strict rules for creating your personal meditation space. Whatever brings you peace and joy can be part of your design, and it can change as your tastes and preferences change. Garden meditation spaces can vary as much as any other part of the garden, but each one helps nurture our green spirits.

What Is the Difference Between an Annual, a Perennial, and a Biennial?

All living creatures, including plants and flowers, have expected lifespans. Recognizing the differences between annuals, perennials, and biennials can help you determine the life expectancies of different garden center plants so you can choose the varieties that will work best in your garden, landscape, and containers.

Annual plants are fairly straightforward. These plants complete their entire lifespan in just one year or growing season, from first sprouting from seeds and growing foliage, stems, and blooms to creating seeds to continue the next generation. After the plants die, they will not regrow from their initial roots, but must restart from seeds again as completely new plants. Annuals are generally faster growing and have longer bloom seasons, making them colorful showstoppers in the garden and landscape.

Common and popular annuals include…

  • Begonias
  • Cosmos
  • Impatiens
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Zinnias

In addition to many popular flowers, most garden vegetables are also grown as annuals, though some of them would botanically be classified as perennials if they were allowed to remain in place for multiple years.

Perennial plants are those with a lifespan that lasts at least three years, though they can live significantly longer as well. Perennial foliage may die back during the winter months but will regrow from dormant roots the next season. These plants often take longer to mature and may have shorter blossom times than annuals, but they can provide many years of beauty in the landscape.

Familiar perennials include…

  • Coneflowers
  • Coral bells
  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Phlox
  • Sedum

In addition to these elegant and popular flowers, hedges and trees are also perennials. These plants are staples in the yard and provide a foundation for any landscape.

Biennials fall between annuals and perennials with a two-year life cycle. During their first year, these plants establish leaves, roots, and stems. Though they may die back slightly over the winter, they will rejuvenate in the spring and grow flowers in their second year, maturing to seeds before the plants die completely.

Familiar biennial flowers include…

  • Canterbury bells
  • Columbine
  • Dame’s rocket
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Foxglove
  • Hollyhocks

Because these plants do not bloom in their first year, patience is essential to enjoy their beauty in their second year. Planting biennials in two successive years can ensure the plants enhance the landscape in multiple years.

Choosing Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials for Your Yard
Once you understand plant lifespans, you can more easily choose the plants that will give you a landscape you love. When choosing plants, larger perennials can create a stunning foundation or border for your yard, including showstopping specimen plants and shade trees. Smaller perennials can fill in larger spaces in flowerbeds and edging, while annuals add brilliant color to pathways, edges, and very visible spaces, including porch pots and containers.

Biennials can be spectacular transition plants, particularly if you may plan on expanding your landscaping beds in the future, or want to fill in a space temporarily before adding a new deck, porch, or otherwise expanding your home or outdoor living space. Biennials are also great choices if you want to enjoy a changing landscape without as much work each year, because you can enjoy the plants for two years before they need replacing. Many biennials are self-seeding making them great additions to the cottage garden.

Ultimately, a landscape that includes a thoughtful mix of annuals, perennials, and biennials will showcase different colors, textures, and growth patterns for stunning visual interest. New cultivars are developed every year, and greenhouses often have the latest plants and newest showstoppers on display. If you plan a mixed landscape, you will have the freedom to enjoy new plants as they are introduced and you will always have new plants to be excited about.

Caring for Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials
While the differences between annuals, perennials, and biennials may seem clear, different plants can have different lifespans based on the exact cultivar, gardening zone, climate variations, and even microclimates within an individual landscape. Furthermore, the care plants receive can ensure they reach their maximum potential for the longest, most productive life. Dammann’s Garden Center & Greenhouse experts can provide recommendations and guidance for the best plants based on your preferences and needs and assist you in choosing plants that will thrive in the conditions of your yard, including soil type, sunlight levels, fertilization, moisture levels, and other needs. To provide each type of plant the best care, consider…

  • Annuals – Provide nourishing fertilizer formulated for the type of plant, and weed around them carefully so these fast-growing plants don’t need to compete for moisture and nutrition. Soaker or dripper hoses can also provide great watering as these plants flourish.
  • Perennials – Be sure these plants have adequate space in the landscape to reach their full size. Good quality mulch can help protect the roots each winter so the plants remain healthy for the next spring.
  • Biennials – Take care to provide appropriate fertilizer for these plants in their different life stages, and mulch around those with basal leaves to provide good winter protection during their dormancy.

Adding annuals, perennials, and biennials to your landscape will not only help you learn about plant lifespans, but you will enjoy a more varied and richly diverse landscape, with plants that provide beauty through the years.

Baptisia Briefing: Growing A North American Native

Baptisia australis, commonly known as false indigo or wild indigo, is a stunning perennial plant beloved by gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. It offers numerous benefits, from environmental to aesthetic, while also being relatively easy to care for. Here are some reasons why adding Baptisia to your garden can be a great choice:

Baptisia Benefits

Native Plant:
Baptisia australis is native to North America, making it well-suited to local environmental conditions. By planting native species like Baptisia, you can support local ecosystems and provide habitat and food for native wildlife, including pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Soil Health:
Baptisia is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning it has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria that allows it to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by plants. This helps improve soil fertility and overall soil health, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Beautiful Flowers:
Baptisia australis produces stunning spikes of deep blue to purple lupine-like flowers in late spring to early summer, adding a vibrant splash of color to the garden and bouquets.

Attractive Foliage:
The foliage is equally appealing as the flowers. With blue-green eucalyptus-like leaves, Baptisia adds texture and interest to the garden even when the plant is not in bloom. The leaves are a long-lasting cut foliage for summer bouquets.

Architectural Form:
The upright, bushy growth habit of Baptisia australis adds structure and architectural interest to garden beds and borders. Even when not in bloom, its foliage provides a handsome backdrop for other plants in the garden.

Seed Pods:
After the flowers fade, Baptisia develops interesting seed pods that persist into fall and winter, adding visual interest and texture to the garden landscape.

Low Maintenance:
Once established, Baptisia australis is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in a wide range of soil types, including poor, sandy, or clay soils. It is also relatively pest and disease-resistant, further reducing the need for human intervention.

Baptisia australis is a long-lived perennial, providing decades of beauty and enjoyment in the garden without the need for division or replacement.

Planting and Growing Baptisia

When growing Baptisia, selecting the right location is crucial for its success. Baptisia thrives in full sun to partial shade, preferring at least six hours of sunlight daily. Ensure that the soil is well-draining, as Baptisia does not tolerate waterlogged conditions. While it can adapt to various soil types, it prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. This large perennial can grow up to 4 feet wide and tall, giving you a generous bang for your buck. Make sure that you provide it with the room it needs to grow to full maturity as it resents being moved or divided.

Spring or fall is the best time to plant Baptisia. Begin preparing the planting area by loosening the soil and incorporating organic matter such as compost. Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s root ball and place the Baptisia at the same depth it was previously growing. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the plant, and water thoroughly. Adding a layer of mulch to the surrounding soil will help prevent the newly planted perennial’s roots from drying too quickly.

Once established, Baptisia is relatively low-maintenance. Water newly planted Baptisia regularly during the first growing season to help it establish a robust root system. Afterward, Baptisia is drought-tolerant and typically only requires supplemental watering during prolonged dry spells.

In early spring, before new growth emerges, prune Baptisia by cutting back the previous year’s growth to the ground. This encourages healthy new growth and helps maintain the plant’s shape. At this time, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the roots.

Baptisia Garden and Landscape Design

Baptisia can be used in a variety of ways to create stunning effects. It works well as a border plant, edging pathways, or defining garden beds. Planted en masse, it can create a bold statement in the landscape. Planted alone, it will provide a striking focal point. Baptisia also pairs beautifully with other perennials and shrubs, adding depth and dimension to mixed borders and perennial gardens.

For a naturalistic look, Baptisia can be incorporated into prairie or meadow-style plantings, where it can mingle with grasses and wildflowers to create a relaxed atmosphere. It can also be used in other informal designs, such as densely planted cottage gardens, where it will capture attention in the early part of the growing season. Give it a try in formal borders, where its upright habit and structured foliage provide a sense of order and balance. Overall, Baptisia is a plant that finds its way to work well in just about any garden situation.

Beautiful Baptisia should grace every garden! Not only does this perennial provide unique and vibrant flowers, foliage, and seed pods on a plant with a lovely architectural form, but it also offers environmental benefits, such as supporting native wildlife and improving soil health. Its ease of care makes it an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners looking to create a sustainable and visually appealing landscape. Plant a few today!

Rain Gardens: Created for Beauty and Functionality

Rain gardens are more than just picturesque additions to a landscape; they are powerful tools for sustainability and environmental stewardship. In a time when climate change is a pressing concern, rain gardens offer a practical solution to mitigate stormwater runoff, promote biodiversity, and enhance the beauty of outdoor spaces. Let’s explore what rain gardens are, their benefits, how to design and build one, and why they are essential for both urban and suburban environments.

What are Rain Gardens?

Rain gardens are shallow, landscaped depressions designed to capture, absorb, and filter rainwater runoff from roofs, walkways, driveways, and other impervious surfaces. By mimicking a natural water filtering process, they help reduce the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff, thus preventing erosion, flooding, and pollution of water bodies.

Benefits of Rain Gardens

  • Stormwater Management: Rain gardens act as natural sponges, absorbing excess rainwater and allowing it to infiltrate the soil. This helps restore groundwater supplies and reduces the burden on stormwater infrastructure.
  • Water Quality Improvement: As rainwater percolates through the soil in a rain garden, it undergoes filtration, removing pollutants and contaminants before reaching groundwater or nearby water bodies.
  • Habitat Creation: Rain gardens provide valuable habitat for native plant species, pollinators, and other wildlife, promoting biodiversity and ecological resilience.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: With their diverse array of plants, textures, and colors, rain gardens enhance the visual appeal of outdoor spaces, creating vibrant landscapes that change with the seasons.
  • Climate Resilience: By reducing runoff and increasing infiltration, rain gardens help ease the impacts of extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfalls and flash floods, associated with climate change.

Designing and Building a Rain Garden

  • Site Selection: Choose a location for your rain garden that receives runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs or driveways, and has well-draining soil. Rain gardens should be situated at least ten feet from the foundation of a house or building.
  • Size and Shape: Determine the size and shape of your rain garden based on the amount of runoff it will receive and the available space. Typically, rain gardens are shallow depressions with gently sloping sides.
  • Soil Preparation: Amend the soil in the rain garden area with compost or organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
  • Plant Selection: Select native plants adapted to local soil and climate conditions, with a mix of species that can tolerate both wet and dry periods.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, to the surface of the rain garden to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and enhance soil health.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance, including weeding, watering during dry spells, and occasional pruning, is essential to keep your rain garden healthy and thriving.

Plants for the Mid-Atlantic Rain Garden

Rain gardens are fantastic for managing stormwater runoff and supporting local biodiversity. Here are some great plant options for rain gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region that will thrive in moist conditions:


Beardtongue (Penstemon)
Blue-Star Flower (Amsonia hubrectii)
Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)
False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis)


Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)


Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
Switchgrass (Panicum spp.)


Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillate)


American Holly (Ilex opeca)
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)

Remember to consider the specific conditions of your rain garden, such as sunlight exposure and soil type, when selecting plants. Additionally, incorporating a variety of species, such as native trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, and ferns, can help provide habitat for diverse wildlife and promote ecosystem resilience.

In addition to their beauty and beneficial plant diversity, rain gardens play a crucial role in promoting community resilience and fostering a deeper connection to the natural world. By creating and maintaining rain gardens, individuals, neighborhoods, and municipalities can contribute to broader efforts to combat climate change, protect water resources, and create more sustainable, livable communities.