We Can Work It Out

Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend

By Jim Sollecito

peonyIt’s official: This year, I have aged into a Beatles song. Since their work had a significant impact on my thinking during those important formative years, I thought I might reflect on some of their long-term effects.

Through reading and travel, I assimilate new ideas and review old information. From there, I’ll assess what might impact me personally going forward.

Off-season preparation has led me into my 45th year in a career that, in no small way, defines me. Some people leave a coaching legacy, teach, create art or music. I design and plant. It’s what I do. It’s what I want to do. Good Day Sunshine.

Sometimes we try to do everything at once in the too short spring season, which can lead to mistakes.

Helter Skelter, so to speak. Some things just take a bit of time, with critical edits after we sit and think about what we have created. Some words and plants are meant to be deleted if they don’t produce the desired result. Maybe there are some areas of your own landscape where a fresh perspective might produce a happier and easier result.

I remember anticipating the Irish countryside’s promised 40 shades of green. In my observation, there were probably more, and it made such an impression that I then redoubled my effort to include as many green hues that I can into landscape designs.

Evergreens do carry the weight of a landscape during at least seven months of the year when leaves are absent. And conifers are not even necessarily green. So, we stock a lot of needled plants in blue, gold and dozens of greens. As a bonus, many of those are resistant to deer.

Color your world

Of course, we crave floral color, too. It’s important to remember that flowers have a limited bloom time. For example, crabapples flower for about two weeks, perhaps less than we might have thought. Part of the design process is sequencing bloom to extend color opportunities. A design has truly achieved its glory if there’s always something grabbing our attention.

Every year, our team sifts through myriads of new plant introductions and selects only those that pass our scrutiny. Winners will not only be visually appealing but also must thrive in our challenging and variable Central New York growing conditions, including soil and weather.

I am a fan of perennials that require little input for an outpouring of reward. Or as others have stated: Act Naturally. The newer cultivars (cultivated varieties) of peonies are at the top of that list. Their longevity is phenomenal. These hardy perennials will outlive me. The newer named varieties we’ve chosen offer sturdy stems that support the showy, long-lasting flowers. Requiring very little care, a peony is also a viable, attractive, deer-resistant foliage plant long after the flowering is done.

Maybe I’m Amazed at the rich flower colors in the photo. In a palette of brilliant white, delightful pinks to rich reds, peonies enhance and add value to a sunny spot for literally decades.

These beauties are a workhorse and a great investment for mid-spring flower color after the early bloomers fade. Imagine.

Plants enrich and improve our lives. People are just calmer and more relaxed when plants are around. If this sounds like the kind of place you’d like to live, why not start now? Are there gaps when nothing is blooming with excitement? The first step in any journey is the most important one. If you are stuck, give me a call. Let my experience and ideas help you. We all do better when we get by With a Little Help From Our Friends.

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or