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Frost can easily damage plants.

I’ve always considered my garden to be a healing place. As someone once said, gardening is cheaper than therapy — and you get tomatoes.

I dig in the ground for the rewards of food and beauty, but with each turn of the spade, the good earth also draws out my worries, hurts and sorrows. For me, it’s a mental vacation as my mind becomes blissfully absorbed in the here-and-now — digging, planting, sowing, watering, weeding and harvesting, and simply breathing. Funny thing is, our brains often solve problems best when we’re not so busy thinking.

All of this leads me to Garden Media’s theme for 2018, “Nature’s Rx for Mental Wellness.” The overall message for projected garden trends ahead is, “Take time to smell the roses.”

Garden Media has tapped into a global consumer mood that says wellness is no longer just about being healthy. It’s about “embracing positivity, relaxation and self-care,” and a new study says being in nature and around water “shifts our brain towards hope and compassion and away from stress and anger. “

The first trend is “Climate Controlled,” referring to gardeners’ desires to plant resilient, weather-hardy plants that can stand up to extreme weather conditions — wind, rain, drought, winter, floods, even wildfires.

GM examines four climate-controlled garden types:

1. Gone with the wind: High winds break and uproot plants, increase water loss and spread disease. Wind-resistant gardens include plants with flexible stems and small narrow leaves such as native grasses, evergreen trees, lavender, yarrow and stonecrop. Plant large trees and shrubs as wind blocks; add small retaining walls and an extra layer of mulch.

2. Gardens that rock: Dry, arid conditions create hot and thirsty plants with wilted or scorched leaves. For these gardens, include drought- and salt-tolerant plants such as euphorbia, fennel, irises and poppies. Plant tall plants for shade.

3. Don’t get bogged down: Excessive rain saturates soil, suffocates roots, breaks plants and attracts pests. Rain gardens include water-resistant natives such as meadowsweet shrubs, Joe-Pye weed, Colorado blue spruce, ferns and winterberry. Improve drainage by using absorbent soils and pervious surfaces, edging puddles and creating paths through low-lying areas with sand or stones.

4. Ice, ice baby: Freezing can cause branches to break and limit water to roots. Frost may cause leaves to appear water-soaked, shriveled, brown or black, but plants may still be saved. Plant cold-hardy trees such as spruce, birch and maples as well as hellebores, sedges and hostas. Add a blanket of mulch, compost and leaves to protect roots. Gently shake now-laden plants and avoid using salt near garden beds.

This trend also emphasizes planting trees, but an urban setting can be a tough place for a tree. Selection and tree care, as well as good maintenance practices, are imperative to keep urban trees healthy and thriving.

More trends next week.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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