By Theresa Miller

Every garden has a story to tell and many of us who garden here in the Methow Valley have our own. A garden is so much more than just growing food. Our gardens reflect who we are and how we want to interact with our garden space and surroundings.

For our region, the USDA Climate Map shows zones 3 – 5 depending on the growing location. However, there are many other factors to consider before depending on that alone.

Plants keep track of the shifting seasons by being acutely attuned to the waxing and waning of the moon. Seasonal responses in plants are not only determined by light but also by weather-related factors like soil temperature and moisture.

Being watchful on your particular piece of property over the course of several years can help to minimize the loss of precious plants, especially those that are treasured heirlooms or sweet memories from your family’s garden. Some simple practices to get the most results from the least effort include the following:

• Plant a small garden the first year.

• Prepare your garden soil in the fall incorporating compost.

• Plan for a watering system that can use a timer.

• Choose varieties that are known to grow well in your zone.

As for planting your surroundings or landscape with trees and shrubs, remember right plant, right place. Cultural requirements include checking to be sure that the varieties that you have selected for planting are cold and heat tolerant for the proper zone.

In addition, by understanding the structural shape of a particular shrub as well as planning for mature height of trees, the need to prune for control will be diminished.

We now know that any pruning is considered an injury and when done without good reason, the tree or shrub can be put at risk. For example, trees that have reached maturity and are topped for interference to power lines will have shortened lives and become subject to disease as the tree struggles to close its wounds over time. It is best to select plants that have the right size and shape for your

Theresa Miller is an Okanogan County Master Gardener and is the art curator for Methow Valley Inn’s annual Art for the Garden show.