Tag Archives: gardener

A Garden Renewed: A Plan

So, here’s the plan, sort of.

Well, I need to backtrack a little. The perennial border on the facing edge of Big Garden is roughly 34 feet long by 3 feet deep. About 10 feet from the left edge is an old garden gate held in place by two 8 feet tall posts that hold two trumpet vines that I only just manage to contain/form an arch over the entrance. (BTW, trumpet vine is one of my invasive species, but I love it, so I am willing to fight its will to get that doorway…)

So, my goal for year one of the reno is to attack those first 10 feet. The next two years will address the remaining border. After 3 years, I really should start over again with the intention to divide what I love, toss the rest (eeks, I can hardly kill a plant, so I will be giving away anything I can’t use that isn’t going to be poison to another’s garden), and find space for improvements.

I’ve already decided I need brighter colors. Big Garden is half an acre from the house so I need orange, yellow, white, purple, magenta, sage green. Currently, the pale pink Campanula, lavender catmint, pink liatris just don’t show up.

Again, I have known this in the back of my mind for a while. I am not an unread gardener; I’ve just been in denial of what needed to be done.

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Garden Catalogs – Beware #1

The Seed Catalogs start filling my mailbox just as soon as the Christmas Cards stop.

When this first started happening, shortly after we moved into our home many years ago, I was thrilled!

I was a very new gardener and didn’t yet comprehend the differences between annuals and perennials and so, therefore, didn’t realize that some catalogs would happily show garden plans with flowers blooming together when that was not possible in the real garden.

Be careful! Beautiful drawings of a final plan are a quick clue to a garden that will not grow as shown.

Planning a perennial garden in terms of color, timing, and height takes a significant amount of plant knowledge. In fact, after many years of gardening, I still don’t have this down completely. In fact, I just registered for 3 classes on just this for the spring – can’t wait!

“The Art of French Vegetable Gardening”

Curious thing – Donny and I went skiing in the Italian Alps about 15 years ago, and I came home fascinated with the cliff-hugging, terraced gardens I saw on the bus ride from Lake Como to Bormeo. So, I found a book on French gardens…

Actually, I am fascinated with both cultures – art, cooking, style, langauge and always thought I would see both countries more extensively than I have, by now. But, I married a man who told me we would “look” at things when we retire; until then, we would “do” them. So, Florence was never visited while I shushed down the training slopes of Italian Olympians.

How I made the leap from the envying the grape trellises of the Alps to wishing to copy the structure of Versailles is not clear, other than this beautiful book I ordered from one of my book clubs: “The Art of French Vegetable Gardening” by Louisa Jones.

It changed my view on how my garden should look; it changed it from a Midwestern row garden to a “potager”. It changed me as a gardener – in fact, I think it created me as a gardener.

The Spring following our return from Italy was spent redesigning the 18′ x 30′ vegetable garden of rows into the plotted, raised bed, perennial-bordered, 34′ x 41′ Big Garden.

It is both too big and not big enough, depending on my enthusiasm: too small in the planning stages for all I want to grow, too large in the creation and clean up stages, and again too small when the plants I could not restrain myself from growing overshoot their boundaries – something that happens no matter how carefully I plan. Actually, I will not take the blame for that – it has to be the wonderful soil I have cultivated.

At any rate, it is again time to inventory the seeds that can be resown from last year, plan the map, order more seeds, and start the babies on my garden shelves. I can’t wait – truly time to Spring Forward!

Nov 3 – What’s Next

Well, as suspected, I have not been a good fall clean up gardener… I guess this is just not a realistic goal while I have two boys playing multiple sports – each weekend had the minimum of two soccer games and a football game, if not multiples of each for the both of them. There were several weekends with 5-6 games and on those occasions, the games were not local.
 
So, the cornstalks that did not grace the front door, are still in their square although not really standing. Tomato cages, bean teepees, watering vessels DO still need to be put away but the sunflower heads will remain – the birds can surely enjoy the seeds for some time to come.
 
And, guess what – I am not inspired to do any of these things although my husband has been very good at emptying the remaining pots and dumping pumpkins left behind from my Halloween display. He probably knows I am already into “holiday” mode – planning Thanksgiving and then hitting Christmas with full stride. He was pruing boxwood and the berries from our crepe myrtle boxwtoday and all I could focus on was how the box had been pruned too soon to keep for an advent wreath, but the berries would make a great addition. Since Big Garden is also a cutting garden, I do enjoy bringing in flowers and then learned to “branch out” to other areas of my yard for inspiration.
 
I will also be seeking inspiration for next spring – can’t wait for spring already!