The Weekly Gardener 1


Again, January...

Garden Observations


I sat out in the garden yesterday, steeling precious moments between rain falls, a rare treat at this time of year. I'm so relieved that I got an extra week at the beginning of December, which allowed me to finish up the yard cleaning. It would be really depressing right now to watch the habitual pile of slimy, rotting debris that I can't touch for another three months.

As it is, the garden isn't in disarray, it's just sleeping. The veggie patch is clean, the planters are clean, the trellises are clean, the flower beds are...well, not so much, but that is a concern for spring.

It is important to watch the garden during the dormant season to make a clear assessment of how much room is still available for planting. For instance, even now, when the perennials are dormant and many of them have died down to the ground, if I throw a needle in the sunny border it will not reach the ground. I'm guessing that means I've reached full capacity.

Of course the wilderness tries to take over it every year, and I can tell you from previous experience, the wilderness is relentless and rapacious. It's an endless struggle.

I guess after so many years and so many tries I'll have to admit that hybrid roses don't much appreciate my garden. The once blooming shrubs are thriving, but all the noble roses are dead. I could blame the weather, the soil, or the hand of destiny, but the end result is that I'm slowly growing my stock of Dr. Huey.

Maybe if weather gives us a break, the French lilacs and the Great Southern magnolia will bloom this year, it's been a while.


Planning for Spring


Usually by this time I'm already overtaken by cabin fever and dreaming of beautiful summer days, but this year, with the exception of a few days of brutal cold at the beginning of the month, it seems like weather forgot winter even exists.

I hesitate to mention this because I don't want to jinx it; for sure the second I write the words another freeze from a place that will remain unmentioned is going to be upon us, but so far the temperatures have been in the fifties and sixties, mostly accompanied by rain.

I am a bit weather confused right now, because I don't know if I'm waiting for spring to arrive or for the fall to end, but no matter.

Some of the spring planning took place a few months ago: the bulbs are planted and I propagated some of the existing perennials.

What really needs work this spring is an area in full shade where the roots of a mature tree make lawn maintenance impossible. I've been planning to plant that hopeless plot of balding grass with a shade garden for a while now, but I never got to working on it, and in the meantime a good portion of it was invaded by wild shrubs and weedy volunteers.

I can already picture the lush leaves of hostas and hellebores, mixed with many other, hopefully less common shade perennials, like Solomon's Seal, toad lilies, trillium, bergenia and monkshood. Of course, cleaning takes precedence, I need to dig out clumps that have grown so big they are peeking out through the branches of the crab apple tree.

Another shade garden. I'm going to become an expert soon.