garden compositions—coach jeff fisher, football, & your winter garden

Share this:

h&h&g gardening – garden compositions—coach jeff fisher, football, & your winter garden

I love football—the energy and excitement generated by battling mind, body, and skill for a few minutes of potential victory and glory.


Hours and hours are spent training for those four quarters—sweat spent, pain endured, plays and instruction memorized. A good coach—leading the way with vision, motivation, strategy, and direction—learns the art of capturing his players’ (and fans’) imaginations of great things to come. Every time I hear Coach Jeff Fisher’s fatherly voice, “Here’s the thing about life. You get back what you put into it…” on a television commercial, I pay attention. Even ignoring the fact that I am an insanely passionate Titans fan, his coaching advice hits a chord of truth to my gardener’s heart. So my goal today is to emulate Coach Fisher,  inspire a team of gardeners in your winter slump, and coach you to horticultural victory.

Here’s the thing about gardening. You get back what you put into it.  Literally. Winter is a great time to add a layer of Royal Soil® compost, shredded leaves, pine fines, Erth™ Food, mushroom compost, fertilizers and products for disease issues. If you’re re-designing or starting a new garden bed, you can begin the process this winter with lasagna gardening—a no-till organic garden prep. Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza is an easy-to-follow guide book to coach you through this task.

A garden rewards those who work harder….Winter gardening is pre-season training. This is the time to get your tools in shape: remove dried dirt and sap with Krud Kutter and fine steel wool, sharpen blades, and sanitize pruners. This is the time to work on your game plan: meet with a landscape architect or designer to create an overall design, and strategize to implement the plan. This is the time to shape up: cut back perennials and dead limbs, remove old plant material from under shrubs and containers.

Who care more….Winter gardening is learning time—how to care for what you have, how to deal with your garden opponents. The first few months of the year find store shelves lined with garden magazines.

Mailboxes are filled with plant catalogs. Great gardening books are waiting to be read. Take time this winter to learn more about caring for your garden with these great resources: Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, The Pruning Book by Lee Reich, and Armitage’s Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials by Allan M. Armitage. Also, peruse Fine Gardening, Tennessee Gardener, Garden Gate, or Horticulture magazines, or take Master Gardener classes from or any number of soil conditioners to your garden beds. The more organic material used to enrich your soil, the less you’ll spend on your county extension service (  There are also some online gardening resources like,,,,, and my favorite,

Who give it their best….What team would go into the game without its best players, its best equipment, or its best effort? Do you know the best plants for your region or the best area for certain plants? What are the best tools to have in your garden shed and the best products with which to treat your plants? Winter is a slower time in most local garden centers so get to know the folks who work there, ask lots of questions about plants you may want to put in your yard, and learn the benefits of all the products they offer. Some of my favorite resources for knowing what is best in my yard is Lois Trigg Chaplin’s The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists: The Best Plants for All Your Needs, Wants, and Whims, Cheekwood Botanical Garden, and the UT Trial gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tennessee.

Then give a little more. A garden gives us so much—beautiful flowers, a bounty of fresh produce, a shady spot for quiet moments.  What I am seeing more and more is the way that local gardeners pass on that giving to others. The Garden Writer’s Association has a program called Plant a Row for the Hungry— the purpose of PAR is to create and sustain a grassroots program whereby garden writers…
encourage their readers/listeners to donate their surplus garden produce to local food banks, soup kitchens, and other programs that help feed America’s hungry. When planning your garden this winter, determine how you can share what you grow. One of the joys of gardening is that you always have something to give!

A note from the sidelines: I enjoy seeing how our professional teams give back to our community. Maybe there is a place for well-honed muscle to assist in developing community gardens. Maybe some of them secretly enjoy planting tomatoes in the ground as much as they enjoy planting quarterbacks. Let me know, Coach Fisher, if any of your players need a gardening game plan!

Editor’s Note: Barbara Wise, floriculture director with Southern Land Company, LLC, brings her gardening expertise and experience to readers of House & Home & Garden™.  You can now read more of Barbara’s plant musings at or follow on twitter@bwisegardens. E-mail your questions to her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *