KC Gardens

Carole Brandt
Member since:
Jun 10, 2011
About Me:

My love of nature, plants and gardening was inherited from my father. As a child, we lived in western Kansas and I helped tend the vegetable garden. My most vivid early gardening memory is of when my father hired my best friend and I to weed the vegetable garden. Using the logic of a 9-year-old, we flooded the entire garden, happily slogging around extracting the weeds and, of course, destroying the soil structure in the process.

When I reached a point where I wanted to explore more deeply the art and science of gardening, the Johnson County Extension Master Gardener program was the perfect place for me to learn, and then share what I learned with others. Having been a JOCO EMG since 1990, I now know never to work in a wet garden!

Because it is very important to me to really understand the whys of gardening, I regularly work on the Master Gardener Hotline, which gives me an opportunity to research a great variety of garden questions and learn from all the people who contact us.

Because my Overland Park garden is on the edge of an ever-encroaching wooded area that slopes down to a creek with a lot of wildlife, I try to foster a healthy growing environment for both plants and creatures, and to use good gardening practices to reduce any run-off. I compost religiously, and generally don’t use pesticides. I’ve found that good soil, rich in organic matter, allows plants to thrive with little intervention on my part.

The style of my garden is eclectic -- a bit on the wild side. Finding the right plant for a particular mini-climate, as well as one whose form, color and texture supports the visual flow of the garden, is one of the aspects I love most about gardening.

Native trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials form the core of my garden, providing great, dependable bones and excellent visual interest all year round, and standing up to the stresses of our environment, which, in turn, greatly reduces the stress on me.

Among my favorite plants are white oaks, hellebores, hardy geraniums, false rue anemone, oakleaf hydrangeas, viburnums, sedums and native grasses. I will never ever again plant Northern sea oats or variegated vinca vine. Never!

One of the greatest truths I have learned is that most of the problems we encounter with plants are due to environmental stress, and that we should use plant material that is naturally suited to the conditions in which we expect them to grow. By doing so, the plant will be healthy and can defend itself against pests and diseases, and the environment is protected from overuse of fertilizers and pesticides.