Flower shows provide ideas during ban

Don't let Georgia's water ban get you thinking that there's nothing you can do for your landscape. It's time for the flower shows.

Bring on those ephemeral beauties. We gardeners have cabin fever and they have beautiful landscapes bursting with flowers and fragrance.

Georgia is home to several flower show venues. The two largest arrive this winter, only four days apart, and are both in the metro area.

The Southeastern Flower Show runs Wednesday through Feb. 3, while the Garden and Patio Show runs Feb. 7 to 10.

Look at these flower show gardens with a water ban mentality. Items for a landscape to-do list are numerous.

Decide what type of focal point you want and where to place it. You'll see sundials, urns, statues, benches and more. If you must have all of the above, your landscaping has begun in earnest. You'll also have to figure out where to place all those new focal points.

Notice the use of color in these gardens; not of leaves and flowers, but the hues of chairs, pots, stones, bricks, wood and anything else not alive. Experts chose those colors, and you can feel confident copying. Color is one important landscape design component that requires zero water. Make this the year your landscape acquires a color theme for hardscape items if it is lacking one.

Pay attention to where your feet are stepping in these gardens. Are they treading on mulch, stone, brick, concrete or gravel? Pathways in any landscape are too often overlooked. In addition to function, pathways are an important aesthetic choice. Numerous pathways will be on display. Perhaps you'll choose two or three that will make your landscape both easier to walk in and more beautiful.

Destinations are desirable in any landscape. A flagstone terrace with an arbor and ceiling fans creates a place to rest, read, eat or visit. You may want to add a roof, outdoor kitchen, fireplace or TV.

If your patio furnishings have become as desirable as an 8-track player, it's time to find replacements. Look for aesthetics and comfort. Neglect either and you'll be searching again, and soon.

It's actually easy to spend money landscaping during a complete water ban, and it's money well spent. All of the projects listed above are instant - no waiting five years for your patio furniture or stone terrace to grow before they look just right.

Here's a secret - this is how landscaping should be thought of and installed: Color theme, hardscapes, shapes, paths, patio furnishings and focal points put in first, then the plants. These aren't ideas the water ban created; they're the principles behind good landscape design.

Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about gardens. E-mail her at taradillard@agardenview.biz.