Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Major Garden Accomplishments

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe that another year is over and we're now in 2015. We're starting the winter wait for spring again, and it's the time for thinking about what we did in our gardens last year and what we want to do when spring comes 'round again.

In my last post, I assessed how I measured up to the gardening goals I set for my myself last January. The result was a pretty dry list of tasks that only the owner of a garden could find interesting. I hope this post will be a more interesting short review of the major changes I made in my gardens in 2014, with photos to illustrate:

1. The New West Island and North Island:

My biggest new project was two new island beds in the north and west yards. The area had nothing but a few young cherry trees planted there. Now the west yard has the West Island, shown above, with a mix of flowering and evergreen shrubs and trees. I will add a few more shrubs this year, perhaps some peonies, as well as some patches of spring bulbs. I hope this will be a lovely but relatively low-maintenance spring flowering area when the trees have grown larger.

The north part of that yard now contains the North Island. As this island bed receives deciduous shade from the ash tree, there are azaleas, a pink-flowering dogwood and other partial-shade trees and shrubs in the part of the bed under the tree. I think I'll add some tree peonies here, because they will benefit from the partial shade.

2. The New Yellow Garden

Last March, there was only a narrow planting strip against the north side of the house and a large ash tree in the center right of where this photo was taken last September. The tree made the area dark and cut the yard in half, as well as being too close to the house (and in a time of the coming Emerald Ash Borer). Now there is a bright garden of yellow and gold plants to view out the north windows of my house, with early-blooming bulbs that can be enjoyed from the warmth of the house. I'll continue to work on this area this year, perhaps adding a few more annuals and perennials, but I think it was a wonderful addition to my yard and I'm quite happy that I made it (despite promising not to make any new garden beds last year!) The North and West Islands can be seen in the background.

3. Improvements to the North Border

Almost nothing bloomed in my new North Border in 2013, and many of the things I planted that first year in this bed did not make it through the hard winter, so this border was depressingly bare last spring. But I planted many annuals, perennials and bulbs in 2014 and I believe this made a big improvement. I hope it will be even more bloom-filled this year.

4. Cleaned, Painted and Organized the Garden Shed

The garden shed was dark, filthy with years of bird poop, and filled with disorganized junk (click on the post link to view the "Before" foulness). In July, I removed everything, swept it out thoroughly (a nasty job), spray painted the walls and beams white (they were old, dark wood like the roof rafters), rolled the counters green and the floors brown, installed shelves and tool hangers, cleaned the windows, hung curtains and organized everything. Now I have a decent garden shed, one I don't dread going into.

5. A New Flower Bed Around the Garden Shed

There was nothing but grass right up to the shed until fall 2013, when I made this new bed and planted tulips under the pear tree.  Last spring I transplanted the hostas and ferns from other beds and planted the yew tree at left. I might plant some bluebells in this shady area this spring, and perhaps the foxgloves I seeded there last summer will make a nice show this year.

I also installed the window box for impatiens (this is the north side of the shed) and the lattice for the 'Blaze' roses on either side of the door to climb up. The original roses I planted in 2013 died over the terrible winter, so I replanted them last spring and covered them with compost this winter -- I hope they will survive and thrive. I also planted a number of perennial plants in front of the roses last spring, and I hope they survive too. I have a hope-filled vision of the lattice being covered with glorious 'Blaze'-ing red blooms each June, and I'm really hoping I'll see at least a little bit of that this year.

6. The New Chicken Shed

In October, we finally got a good shed to keep our chickens warm and safe, next to the fenced-in run area. It makes a nice addition to our Kitchen Garden area, and we have nicknamed it 
the "Grand Chicken Hotel." 
A thick layer of wood chips makes for plush chicken accommodations. The nesting boxes are at top left and there are two roosting bars crossing the shed for them to sit on. 
The door at right leads to their fenced run.

Anyway, these were the major changes I made in my gardens this year, and I feel pretty good about what I accomplished, even though I didn't do everything I hoped to (my last post details the things I didn't get around to doing). I'm looking forward to seeing how these areas I made last year look in the second year, and in years after as I continue to improve them.

I know I've vowed this for the past two years (and failed spectacularly to adhere to my vow), but I really am not going to make any new garden areas this year. I think I already have all the different types of gardens I want for right now (shady/sunny, borders/islands, formal/informal, spring/summer/autumn blooming, etc.), and I still have a number of improvements to make to these already-existing areas. These will give me something to think about in the next few winter months and plans to make for spring, when it finally arrives.

Many thanks for reading, and many wishes for a wonderful 2015! -Beth


  1. Wishing you a Happy New Year 2015, and may you have another year of fine accomplishments in your garden. I envy you your garden shed, it is a great space.

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary -- Many wishes to you for the New Year too! -Beth

  2. You've done quite a lot! I just love your North Border, and your Garden Shed looks like quite the nice spot to do some pottering in now. I hope you have a wonderful New Year, with a wonderful blooming garden!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, and for your very kind compliments, Indie. Good luck with your gardens too! -Beth

  3. No new garden areas?... really? I've made that resolution every year for the last 40 years I think... you know how that went!! Actually I have the same idea for this season... want to concentrate on finishing the kitchen this summer.... then I came across a photo from almost 20 years ago... the particular garden was gorgeous and many of the plants are still there... just need some sunlight and division to take off again as they are now in heavy shade... guess that will mean opening up a new space in the sun... so much for that resolution!! I really love your garden shed... thanks for the post... I am working in the studio almost full time just now and also involved in music... makes the days go fast... we definitely could use some snow if it's going to get as cold as they say.... hello to Brian and Happy Winter!! Friends, Larry

    1. Hi Larry, Thanks for reading! I hope you are Sarah are doing well and that your health is improved. I'm glad you have things to keep you busy during winter, and I look forward to seeing the photos you will post when spring comes. Take care, -Beth

  4. Happy New Year 2015 and happy gardening Beth! Reading through your review of garden projects in recent years and all that you've accomplished has renewed my enthusiasm for gardening when the weather improves. I look forward to hearing more from you in the coming months.

    1. Thanks, Linda, I'm glad this post gets you in the mood for gardening -- we only have to wait a few months now! Thanks for reading and Best Wishes to you in this New Year too! -Beth

  5. what good ideas you have made.thank you