So do it! Whether your garden is contained in one small pot or a massive, backyard plot, getting started in the whole growing business can be simple.

“The first thing I tell people is to have fun,” said Brian Pirtle, a nurseryman at TLC Florist & Greenhouses.

“I think a lot of people get caught up in the hard work of gardening. When I work out in the garden, it’s my therapy time. I’m out there digging and I don’t have any problems in my mind. It’s just me and the dirt.”

First things first: Prepare. Not mentally — although Pirtle likes to start thinking about his garden around December — but physically. That means testing your soil.

above Christy White, co-owner of Wilshire Garden Market

“Here in Oklahoma, we in general have very poor soil — lots of clay, low drainage — and some people just go out and plant into that without doing all of the work and preparation to make their bed ready,” he said.

Soil testing is simple and will tell you what kind of nutrients are available.

“It’ll give them pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium rates,” said Ray Ridlen, Oklahoma County Extension Service horticulture educator. “We like for vegetables for the pH to be 6.5 or 7, and a lot of our soils are in the high 7s to low 8s, so they need to apply sulfur to lower the pH.”

Once the soil is tested and regulated to be a happy home for plants, prepare your bed with compost and edging.

“It’s never too early to start that process, and that’s the hard, long process of gardening,” Pirtle said.

So, what to plant? That depends on what type of garden you envision. For a vegetable garden, Ridlen recommends peppers, squash and cucumbers. He also highly recommends tomatoes, but said it’s important the varieties are resistant to fusarium wilt disease. Tomatoes and peppers are also great for container gardening.

If you’re more interested in flowers, Pirtle said this is the perfect time to start planting the marginally hardy plants like begonias and impatiens. Those, along with nandina and boxwood, will be easy to care for.

“I like begonias because you can plant them in sun, plant them in shade. You really don’t have to go through a lot of thought process,” he said.

Pirtle also said that paying attention to regions — meaning what will grow well in this climate — is important.

Ridlen added that keeping your plants content with the right amount of fertilizer and water is the key to keeping them thriving all summer long.

No, really, throw a garden party!

Don’t keep all those pretty blooms to yourself. Throw a backyard garden soiree (or shindig — we cast no judgment on your style) in your new green space.

Antique Avenue, 5219 N. Western, has a lovely collection of vintage and antique finds for your garden. The furniture and decor is housed in two outdoor spaces (don’t forget the space in the back!) and peppered throughout the store. Take your time to really look at the variety of pieces that range from retro kitsch to lovely Victorian.

Head to Antique Avenue for iron tables and seating, trellises, large pots and statuary. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, check out the cool finds like antique iron wagon wheels or even an Old West-style bank teller window.

For all things pretty and whimsical, spend some time exploring Wilshire Garden Market, 2821 W. Wilshire. The shop just smells and sounds like spring — it’s a great inspiration.

Check out the outdoor rugs and pillows in a large variety of styles by lines like Elaine Smith’s Inconceivably Outdoors and Mad Mats, or pick from the large terracotta pots from Vietnam.

Wilshire Garden Market has a lovely collection of small fountains — poised to become a big trend in backyards — and unique statuary (think cats, pineapples, Buddha and even an adorable piglet). One of the newest finds in the shop are hanging hammock chairs done in bright, pretty patterns. —Jenny Coon Peterson

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