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As spring swiftly approaches, we gardeners are filled with that familiar ambivalent feeling—eager for the warm weather and beautiful blooms, but anxious about all the work we need to get done to get our garden started right! Don’t be caught off guard with the arrival of spring: follow this 8-step game plan to whip your garden into top shape by planting season!

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(Note: This is Part 3 in a series. First you should read Part 1 and Part 2).

If your problem is not too much rain, but too little, again we can look to nature for solutions. In nature you don’t see lush tropical plants trying to grow in the desert. Rather, the flora follows the climate, with plants growing only as full and lush as the local water sources allow. We can learn from nature’s wisdom by adapting our gardens to suit our climate and by making good use of every raindrop the sky gives us! We can mimic the water cycle by carefully conserving and re-using our water supplies. We can mimic deserts and prairies by landscaping with drought-tolerant native species rather than “thirsty” turfgrass and ornamentals. And for those of us that are really ambitious, we can mimic the way that forest landscapes hold onto rain by utilizing techniques like Hugelkultur and swales.

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Epimedium Ogisui
I was browsing through our catalog, as I sometimes do when I can't think of anything else to write about. I just find a pretty plant and then talk about how pretty it is. I know it's boring, and I apologize, but they really are very pretty.

This time was different. It wasn't the picture that caught my attention, but the description. Epimedium Osigui was "named for Mikinori Ogisu, the famed Japanese plant hunter…In the native it is found among limestone deposits near waterfalls." It was discovered in the mountains of Sichuan, China.

Plant Hunter! Browsing the InterWebs, I found Mr. Mikinori was connected with the discoveries of many popular plants. One blogger called him the "most important man in Epimediums." He has trekked though thick forest, up high mountains, and deep into dense river gorges to find some of the rarest and most exciting new plant varieties. One of the most interesting articles was from the Historic Roses Group written by another famed botanist and plant hunter, Martyn Rix. He described Mr. Mikinori's discoveries of exotic Chinese Roses. He spent ten years combing the Chinese wilderness, and has provided us with cultivated varieties of plants that, before him, very few people had even seen.

I guess it was naive of me, but I just had never thought of botanists as adventurers. I guess somebody had to go out and discover all of these things. As gardeners, we often fill our gardens with exotic plants from all over the world, provided either by our local nursery or ordered from a catalog like Wayside Gardens. Rarely, if ever, do we think about how that plant came to be cultivated. Who took the first sample of seeds or the first cutting. Some of the species that Mikinori Ogisu discovered only grow natively at very high altitudes or in deep gorges where there are no trails. The man is a modern pioneer, forging paths for knowledge and future discovery.

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