Gardening as Process: Gardening Resolutions for 2009

Whether your garden is old or new, part of the planning process needs to be defining your destination so that you not only know how to get there, but also when you’ve arrived. And many of us don’t get more than six to eight months to do it, because our “year” is the growing season. So let’s get started!

Stuff happens. This fall, a 75-foot wild cherry tree blew down across our newly-installed rhododendron garden on the east side of the house, taking with it the deer exclosure and our electric and telephone lines. After Dan lopped off the top of the tree and repaired the fence, I crawled around on the trunk and noted that, if he cut off another piece small enough to carry away, the remaining trunk would crush nearly every one of the 12 large rhodies we’d just planted! No problem. Come spring, we’ll dig out all the plants that are at risk, cut up the tree, then put the rhodies back. At least we don’t have to dig new holes.

Next on my agenda (but not Dan’s) is the lavender garden expansion out front. Sounds easier than it is. This is the area where we moved the propane tank back by about ten feet in October. Some basic work needs to happen here, such as installing a step or two to get down to the tank and stabilizing the earth around it. My winter planning on this area consists of figuring out how the rock wall that will be placed in front of it should look, so that Dan can build it as soon as the weather breaks. Right now we’re considering a double wall that could act as a container for plants. Hmmmn. What kind of plants?

Well, the existing lavender patch will have to be enlarged out to meet the new wall. Other shrubs, or small trees under consideration for propane tank camouflage are red twig dogwood, dwarf Harleson (also called Harelson) and Winesap apples, roses, creeping juniper, switch grass, white forsythia, or some of my volunteer white cedars. The space cannot accommodate all of these plants, so there are tough decisions to be made--- part of the fun of creating your own environment.

We brought home ten dwarf conifers from the Garden Writers’ Conference (thanks, Iseli Nursery) that need homes; the lily bed needs enhancement, and some more ferns are needed for the white-and-fern garden.

Next, growing more veggies. Cherokee purple and hybrid cherry tomatoes are back on the list, as is my Galeux d’Eysines pumpkin (great soup!), and moving more strawberries from the east garden to the west berm. I want to try some cucumbers and, maybe, some beans.

High on the perennial list are candelabra primroses to skirt the front of the water fountain. This has been a problematic space --- wet or dry shade, depending how often I remember to turn on the fountain. And a puppy that pulls the plants out when my back is turned. Whirlwind hosta has done very well there, near the back corners, but I still want some flowers that are not impatiens.

You may have noticed several things about my gardening resolutions: There’s more than two people can do in the time available; we ‘extend the season’ by scheduling building projects in spring and fall; nature supplies an abundance of hard labor due to unforeseen weather “events;” a gardener’s work is never done. That’s why gardening is a process, not a project.

Have fun coming up with your own gardening resolutions for 2009.

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