As warmer weather envelopes the country, Jeff Trader ’73 has begun working in his 10 gardens, anticipating the summer months when his yard produces exquisite blooms. Jeff’s gardens encourage each observer to sit, relax and enjoy. Perennials abound with a touch of annuals for color to delight from early Spring through the Fall.
We took some time to pick his brain about gardening – he is a Master Gardener after all! – and hope these pointers are helpful to you, our alumni and donors, as we breathe in that fresh spring air:
- 3 tips for starting a garden
- Where to buy the best soil and plants
- Pro-tips for a weed-free, balanced garden
- Why he credits Carroll with his overall quality of life
What got you into gardening?
“When my children didn’t need me to watch their sports anymore, I needed a hobby. I’m not a golfer so went with the other ‘G’ – gardening. About 15 years ago, through encouragement from a friend who is a master gardener, I took classes and after taking the exam, started my avocation as a Master Gardener. Earlier this year, I was named to Honored Status based on my contributions to the organization. I have made a special effort to make community presentations on Perennial Garden Design.”
3 Tips for Starting a Garden:
- Start with a good base of soil. Work up the new bed and add 6 inches of rich soil mix.
- Take note of whether you have sun or shade. Put taller plants behind the shorter ones.
- Start with plants that are easier to grow and difficult to harm: like a nice bed of hostas.
The best sources (in his opinion) to get plants/flowers?
- Soil: Potting soil blend from Certified Products in New Berlin
- Plants: Ebert’s Nursery in Ixonia – a drive that’s worth it! Ebert’s is a place everyone should go, even to see what’s available. It will pique your interest.
3 Pro-Tips for the next level of gardening:
- Use “Preen!” It’s a granular weed barrier that you sprinkle around plants. In the spring after you’ve cleaned your bed, put some down before perennials come up. Apply it early, apply later; it helps give you a fighting chance to make your beds look nice without getting too frustrated by weeds.
- Put three of anything in a triangle or a series of triangles for balance.
- Plan for a variety of perennials and annuals. For perennials, everything only lasts a couple of weeks so think of it like a marathon hand-off when planning your plants. If you plant 10% of your garden with annuals, you will have color all the time.
Jeff and his wife Patty will be attending their fourth “Floriade,” which is no small feat considering it only happens once every 10 YEARS! This every-tenth-year expo is currently hosted in Almere, one of the youngest cities of the Netherlands. Learn more on the Floriade website.
What Jeff has to say about Carroll:
“Carroll has served me well both in my professional life and general quality of my life. I believe the liberal arts experience from English to psychology to art (with Wis Guthrie), gave me a foundation of enjoying culture. Also, many of my good friends today are from my Delta Rho Upsilon roots which are invaluable to me.”
Additionally, Jeff was one of the recruiting products of Shirley Hilger and administered the tour guide program while he attended Carroll. Thank you to Jeff for the pointers and sharing his love of gardening with us! If you want to see Jeff’s garden in early June, check out the CBS-58 Sunday Special from last summer.