Get Ready For Gardening Success

Garden tip from Mark Fisher, garden manager, St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center

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2119 E. Madison, El Cajon




The St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center campus is the site of a 2-acre organic garden, approved by the Americans With Disabilities Act, that serves as a reality-based work/training environment for developmentally disabled adult students. The horticultural program is just one of the center’s many empowering programs for adults with developmental disabilities.

Don’t miss the 14th Annual Morning Glory Brunch fund-raiser on Saturday, April 14, sponsored by Sycuan, St. Madeleine Sophie’s Auxiliary and San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. For more information, visit 


All gardeners confront the same dilemmas when faced with the challenge of designing their garden space, regardless of size:  “How do I best utilize my space?” “What kind of space do I want to create?” “What are the light, soil and climate conditions I have to work with?” “What is my budget?” With a little creativity and determination, a dramatic garden can be produced with limited space. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Visit area gardens for inspiration — especially this time of year as garden tours abound. 
  • Be bold. Don’t be afraid of the gardening challenge and don’t hesitate to ask for advice from someone who’s been there. Gardeners in general are open to share their experiences.
  • Consider the kind of environment you want to create within your limited space and work with the natural climatic limitations of your region. Your chances of success are greatly increased if the plants you choose are proven to thrive in southern California.
  • Create a dramatic effect with containers. Containers can limit the size of aggressive growers or plants that are otherwise invasive. They also give the gardener the ability to reposition plants as needed. With the use of containers, gardeners can establish microclimates to accommodate plants with differing soil, light and water requirements within close proximity. 
  • When designing your garden consider plant height and growth patterns. Plants thrive and bloom in different stages and times throughout the growing season. 
  • Consider the horizontal nature as well as the verticality of your space. Hanging plants, wall-oriented containers and succulent walls are alternatives that can give your garden another dimension. 
  • Incorporate artwork such as mosaics, framed art and interesting objects in your garden. As an extension of your indoor living space, art is a natural fit. 
  • Utilize the materials you have. Before discarding old wooden furniture or ceramic containers consider how they could be reused in different ways. 
  • Get comfortable with plants and don’t be afraid to experiment. In general, plants are very forgiving.
Categories: Gardening