And there’s already two and a half feet on the ground. Sigh.
So I thought I’d change gears a bit and cheer myself up with some 2015 garden planning, even if that damn groundhog did predict six more weeks of winter. As the snow falls, I’m frothing at the mouth thinking about going to the nursery and picking out all my new plants. You know how some women get around new shoes? That’s how I get around flowers.
Before I jump into our garden, I want to give you a little background. When I was little, my parents made a decision that my mom would work full time and my dad would work third shift, leaving him home during the day to take care of my brother and I. Consequently, he took charge of the yard and garden (and coined the phrase “yardening”). My parents only own about a 1/2 acre of land, but my dad does slow laps around the entire yard daily, inspecting every single corner and plant. He has long term plans, short term plans, big dreams and setbacks. He picks things up from the side of the road and re-imagines them, he transplants things constantly, and grooms his lawn and plants meticulously. His gardens are incredible and his lawn is like the outfield at Fenway Park (the highest compliment around here).
My aunt, his sister, is the same way. Except her gardens are even more elaborate, and yet somehow not at all over the top. Her gardens could be on the cover of a magazine. One of my favorite things to do is visit her throughout the seasons to see what’s in bloom over at Chateau Sharon. She even has this incredible potting shed, filled with antique flower frogs and supplies. I mean seriously, I could move into her potting shed and live a perfectly happy life.
So anyway, my green thumb is hereditary. When I’m outside gardening (yardening), it makes me feel close to my roots (pun intended) and I loooove watching things grow. I think it’s so cool that some plants reach toward the sun, or some bloom only at night (oh evening primrose, you delicate little genius).
I’ve become just like my dad. I do laps around the house at night – inspecting everything carefully, searching for new blooms, checking to see if beetles are eating leaves. I find something new every time. I remember last year I found a few plants I hadn’t noticed the year before – sweet pea vines climbing the back fence, and wild strawberries in the grass.
I would never pick a house based solely on its landscaping, but it just so happened that our house came with the most beautiful gardens already established. It can take years for perennials to fully grow in, and a lot of research to figure out what plants should go where, so the fact that it was already done for me is something I’m eternally grateful to the previous homeowners for. Our neighbors tell me Phyllis was always outside gardening. I don’t know if she had the yard originally professionally landscaped and then just kept it up or if she just knew what she was doing, but basically every single plant is exactly where it should be. She accommodated the fact that the sun hits different places in the yard according to what season we’re in, and planted the right things in coordinating spots. The lily of the valley blooms in the shade and the forget-me-nots surround the pond in the moist soil and the bleeding hearts are perfectly situated under the pine trees in the acidic soil. It just all works.
And yet amazingly, she left me room to put my own stamp on it. There was an entire empty bed in almost full sun on the side of the house that I think the previous owners used as a vegetable garden. And the gardens in the front weren’t so full that I couldn’t plant more of my own choices.
Last year, I made some decisions and moved a few things around and this year, I hope to do even more. I didn’t get to devote as much time later in the season as I would have liked because the dogs were such tiny babies and required almost all my attention, but this year I hope I’ll be able to get out there more.
In the side garden last year, I planted dahlias, zinnias, roses and marigolds on one side, and tomatoes, strawberries, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and basil on the other. Half was for cutting and half was for harvesting. It was a little haphazard but I liked having both, so I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to work it out. I definitely overdid it on the zinnias last year. I had never grown them from seed before and they got huge and floppy. These tiny little sprouts in three neat little rows…
So while I loved the zinnias (they were great cutting flowers and attracted lots of pretty birds) I definitely need to go easier this year. I think I might cut out a small garden in front of the fence (the side visible from the street) to use for low growing annuals, like my dahlias and marigolds, and use the big garden for veggies and herbs.
For herbs I’m thinking rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, lavender, and dill. For veggies, I had no trouble with tomatoes last year so I’ll do them again, but I think I want to add carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers (dill and cucumbers? Hello homemade pickles!). I would love to grow garlic, but I blew it by not planting it in the fall last year. Maybe I’ll get around to it this year.
I also need to find a place for a lilac bush, so I stop stealing my mom’s blooms. And I need to find a spot for gladiolus, because our neighbor has them lining his house in the colors of the rainbow and I swoon over them every time I walk the dogs.
A list of favorites we already have – peonies, daisies, clematis, lady’s mantle, hydrangeas, poppies. Thank you Phyllis.
I realize I’m getting ahead of myself considering we’re basically buried in snow with more coming, but I really need to plan this all out ahead of time. Otherwise by the time the crocus bulbs start popping up I’ve done no prep work and find myself at Home Depot staring at the same plant for a half hour. I will admit I don’t miss the bee stings and poison ivy (it got me good last year) but I desperately miss watering everything at the end of the night. I put on a playlist of my dad’s favorite songs and walk around at dusk – just me, Bob Seger and the mosquitoes. It’s my wind-down.