Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for My Gardens in 2014

Happy New Year! This is the time for New Year's Resolutions, and although I've already made a big promise to myself in terms of losing a few pounds and getting in shape (which can only help in making gardening physically easier, of course), there are also many areas of my gardens that I need to improve next year, and perhaps writing about them will make me focus on what needs to be done and motivate me to do it, come Spring.

Some general goals:

1. I would like more early flowers: bulbs, earliest perennials, flowering shrubs and small flowering trees. By March, I'm desperate to spend time outside and see any signs of life that I can, and I've decided that these early flowers give me more joy than the very last ones in October and November do. I'd like to include some early cutting flowers among these: bulbs and branches mostly.
Boy, it makes me happy to see this after a long winter!
2. No more new garden areas this year -- only work to improve the ones I already have.

3. I need to develop a higher standard of maintenance, weeding more regularly, perhaps edging beds? I'd like a neater look in the garden.

4. I'd like to take better garden photos -- better in quality and more often. My father very kindly gave me a nice camera for Christmas, and I resolve to spend January learning how to use it.

Goals for specific areas of my garden:

These will be of more interest to me than perhaps to anyone who might read this, but I will set them down here anyway, in the interest of making a public declaration of what I'd like to accomplish this year. I'll go through the list of my garden areas from my garden map:

1. House
     I really should repaint our white picket fence, and I'd like to have some new, pretty cushions for our porch furniture.
2. East Patio and Gardens
     The east bed of the east patio areas is overrun with grass and creeping charlie, and I should remove at least the smaller perennials and maybe even the rose bushes, spray at least twice over a week with round up to kill grass and pernnial weeds, put a brick border along the back to kepp grass out, and replant. We'll see what gets done this spring....
3. Front Border
    These borders will fill out more, as I completely re-did them in Fall 2012. I'll replace any perennials that didn't make it through the winter, and try to plant or seed annuals by mid-May.
4. Mint Circle
    I'm eagerly waiting to see what the crocus and tulips I planted this fall will come to, and will plant annuals from seed in May.
5. Addition Borders
    I'd like to plant marigold plants and some seeded annuals in orange and purple colors in the front border, improve the blue beds on the west side, and especially find some attractive shade plants for the north side this year. This will require some research, as I know very little about good shade plants. Perhaps some ferns would look lush.
6. White Beds and Pergola
    I'll probably have to replace the non-hardy double white anemone "White Everest" that were sold as hardy (but only to Zone 7!). More annuals. I need to find some way to allow the white clematis to attach itself to the smooth posts  on the back on the pergola. perhaps some chicken wire wrapped around the posts and spraypainted white to match the pergola post?
7. Kwanzan Cherry Tree Grove
    Fertilize? Trim off sucker growth.
8. North Windbreak with tunnel to Celtic Cross Statue
    I'm getting tired making this list already, so I'll plan on leaving this area alone this year...
9. North Border
    a) See how first year's planting fills in and what survives the winter
    b) add more perennials -- I will think about what else might look nice there
    c) plant annuals earlier this year, by May 15.
10. Peony Border
    This is one of the areas that needs careful consideration and much work. I need to remove the nursery bed plants from the north end and replace them with something, perhaps starting a collection of iris. Some more bulbs planted in fall, perhaps. I will think about this some more in the coming winter months -- as this bed in in line with scenic views of fields, perhaps it would be best not to have showy flower displays, at least after spring?
11. Herb Garden
    Plant basil from seed this year as it was unsuccessful from starts the past two years due to drought. Seed by mid-May.
12. East Windbreak with secret tunnel
    Again, nothing here.
13. Rainbow Border
    More annuals, planted and seeded earlier. Assess performance of perennials. Need more blooming in June, and this will require some more thought and research. See how the tulips are holding up.
14. Windmill
    The bed under the windmill has been a disaster, because the trumpet vine planted by our predecessors has been impossible to kill. This year, after the daffodils have bloomed, I will mow them off and mulch heavily with compost. Then I will carefully spray anything that comes up, trying to avoid the two climbing roses (perhaps pruning them back on the edges to make their footprint smaller). I will need to get some kind of deadly biocide tree killer, I think, as Roundup has been unequal to the task. I must get this under control this year.
15. Pond and Four L-Shaped Garden beds
    Use algae control more regularly in spring. See if water lilies survive winter (I left them in the pond this year, as they did not flower last year, unlike their first year.) If they don't come up, I will replace them with new plants. In the beds, plant pink petunias this year (vinca was less than impressive last year).
16. Orchard
    Plant replacement apple and pear trees for the missing ones. See if more daffodils came up this year and take photos. I planted 500 in fall 2012, but they didn't all come up for some reason, and I bought them from a reputable bulb company.
17. Flowering Tree Grove
    Buy two more flowering trees for spots we didn't fill last year, replace any trees lost over the winter. Also, I would like to plant some early-flowering shrubs that I can cut for forcing inside, so I will have more flowers for indoor arrangements.
18. Gazebo
    Plant border around gazebo with easy, drought-resistant, deer-resistant shrubs, perennials and annuals.
19. Garden Shed and Surrounding Borders
    Move hostas from Peony Bed to west side under tree, also buy 'Sum and Substance' large hosta. Transplant ferns next to shed on west and south sides. Other partial sun perennials, annuals?
20. Tractor Shed Pavement and Mock Orange Hedge
    Clear off debris and junk from pavement.
21. East Tractor Shed Border and Fern Border
   I need to find a way to attach the yellow climbing rose to the side of the shed. Whether I should make a large lattice or simply tie the rose to staples is a question.
22. Garage Borders (North, West and South)
    All three of these borders need a lot of work and more plants. The south is blazingly sunny, the west is mostly shaded, and the north is in full shade. I will think about this over the winter....
23. Forsythia Bed
    I'd like to plant some more perennials and perhaps a few annuals here, but I should plant early, since it's difficult to run a garden hose to this bed to water. I'll have to decide what might look good here with the forsythia, the two large peony bushes, the white rose and the mums I planted here in fall. Maybe some nice June-blooming perennials, so garden visitors have something to look at when arriving.
24. Kitchen Garden and Chicken Compound
    I need to put more compost in the beds, and perhaps some garden soil in beds I will seed for cutting flowers, since seeds don't start well in pure compost. We also need more mulch in the paths. both of these could probably wait another year, though, if I can't them done. I want to plant more flowers for cutting, ones that I love to cut but that will be not too much work. I will look into more bulbd to plant this fall, so i will have more early cut flowers in spring.
25. Upper Pasture
    I made a mown grass maze for my children here last summer, but perhaps something different would be in order for this year? Hmm....
26. Fenced Pasture
    I hope our young weeping willow trees survive the winter and last summer's drought. I'd like to see them grow larger in 2014.
27. Lower Pasture and Wildflower Strip
    This year, I will select a wildflower mix that includes some larger-flowered annuals that can be seen better from the road, such as medium-size sunflowers (tall ones might blow over if it's windy).

I have lots of things to think about, research and decide upon over the winter. Here's to a productive 2014!

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