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Garden experience is many faceted

A quality all-weather hammock can have you enjoying the benefits of your flower garden like never before.

Serious flower gardeners know all about bad backs, bug bites, battered knees and cracked hands. And the payback for their literal sweat equity? A fleetingly pretty patch of yard.

Creating and tending to a large flower garden is quite simply an act of love. But if only that garden could show a little more love in return ...

It can, actually. Plan your plant beds right, and nature's blooming beauty will start kissing your senses like never before.

First, select plants that provide the most interest -- to you. Thanks to such picture-rich plant sites as SpringHillNursery.com, MichiganBulb.com and BulbsDirect.com, that task has never been easier.

Spring-flowering bulbs will not again be available until fall. But many online merchants have plenty of themed packages of summer bulbs and flowering perennials -- flower assortments assembled for exquisite fragrance (get a whiff of the stunning Asiatic Lollypop lily!), or bulb collections attractive to hummingbirds or butterflies (this season's hybrid butterfly bushes are bountiful color explosions).

Next, choose a roughly 16-by-5-foot stretch of relatively flat ground within your preferred garden bed. Leave an unplanted path to it from outside; paving stones provide a pleasant accent.

You ultimately won't plant anything in your chosen spot but yourself. But you'll want to put in plenty of flowering favorites all around it.

Fitting the unplanted space with a bench or set of outdoor chairs misses the mark; neither option offers maximum garden immersion.

Instead, go with a hammock, and a hammock stand. Don't settle for less than quality brands, not just for the sake of your own personal comfort, but also to add a superb visual complement to your garden.

Choose a hammock stand of either powder-coated steel or durable wood (cypress, for instance). Your hammock itself should be equally weather-tough, woven from such high-performance synthetics as soft-spun polyester or DuraCord.

Set up your hammock immediately, allowing winged garden visitors time to grow used to it, and your handiwork to start filling in around it. As the weather warms and flowers start to pop, fill in any gaps in your planting.

Then, on your first free pretty morning, climb in and stretch out. Let your body slacken and your senses surrender to sight, smell and sound. And wait to be happily surprised.

One small caveat however. Bug spray may help you enjoy such heightened brushes with nature's beauty without having to experience quite so much of its bite.




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