Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Garden Year in Review

End of July 2014
“Every garden has the potential for perfection because it will never be finished, because the elements that make it a garden … are in constant flux and you can never step into the same garden twice.” --  Frank Ronan

My 2014 garden peaked at the end of July, late but lovely, with an abundance of cleome that I planted to replace the diseased purple cone flowers.  The cleome, meant to be a stopgap while waiting for the newly planted bee balm to fill out, will undoubtedly reseed itself everywhere -- a good thing as the bee balm succumbed to powdery mildew, so I yanked it out. I enjoyed several gardening successes (such as the cleome) and some disappointments (like the bee balm) but all-in-all it was a great gardening year.

The year began with the customary seed starting. I sowed trays of annuals and vegetables in the house, eventually moving them to the potting shed, then into the garden after the last frost date. All thrived, especially the snapdragons. It was an excellent year for snapdragons.

I organize my seeds according to the date they need sowing
Snapdragon Antirrhinum 'Cinderella Mix'

As soon as the ground was no longer frozen, I began my biggest project for 2014, reworking the small round bed at the foot of the deck. Gooseneck loosestrife had crowded out other plants, therefore it had to go.

Gooseneck Loosestrife Lysimachia clethroides

I took the opportunity to expand the flowerbed and to plant native plants - non-aggressive ones, of course.  The resulting new Horseshoe Garden is the topic of my next posting. It is too early to say if the horseshoe bed is a success as a whole, but the snapdragons I planted at the front edge were stunning and I intend to grow them from seed again next year.

Horseshoe garden in the spring

Spring was late, and so very welcome!...

The spring cottage garden was pretty with foxgloves and peonies.

I lost roses to the harsh winter. The yellow Knockout was the only prolific survivor, but Japanese beetles consumed most of the blooms. Roses are such a challenge in this area.

With the late-July peaking of the cottage garden, the pond came into its own. The water stayed very clear all season, because of the cool weather. Also, we shaded the pond with a beautiful lotus plant. I love those big, umbrella leaves. Hopefully, it will flower next year if we are successful with its overwintering.

Sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera

The cottage garden, which my grandson calls 'Octupus's Garden,' provided winning blooms for the West End Fair. I won several first place ribbons for flowers, produce and displays.

The kitchen garden produced vegetables through to December

On the down side, powdery mildew was rampant, infecting several blooms and vegetables.

Phlox and Beebalm were infected with powdery mildew

I did not see many monarch butterflies in my garden this year, although I planted more milkweed. I do hope 2015 will see their return.

A rare visitor.

New for 2014 were the miniature gardens my grandson and I created. We plan more for next year.

New for 2015 and some challenges:

In addition to more fairy gardens, there will be new spring flowers, as I planted 200+ bulbs. Daffodils will greet you on each side of the path to the front door. Hopefully, there will be tulips and crocuses in the entry garden -- if the squirrels didn't get all of them. Also, I planted alliums in the cottage garden.

There will be daffodils each side of the path next spring.

There are a couple of challenges: 

First, we now have a large, ugly, whole-house generator in the stone garden. I am so happy to have the generator for when/if another hurricane hits and knocks the power out, but I need to find some way to disguise it. Maybe plantings, picket fencing or pots of flowers? There's not much space there, so I don't yet know what I'm going to do. 

Secondly, a skunk knocked over the 'naked lady' (as my grandchildren called the statue) in the shade garden and it smashed into small pieces. I'm fairly certain it was a skunk because some creature had pushed over a large pumpkin I placed nearby and the pumpkin had a hole in it shaped like holes a skunk makes. Also, the lawn nearby was covered with skunk holes. The challenge is to find a focal point that's not too expensive and creates a similar mood. I'm looking.

The 'naked lady' has graced the shade garden from its beginning

Not a perfect gardening season, but pretty close to it. And to use the mantra of all gardeners, 'There's always next year.' I think you understand when I say I credit my garden with helping me survive a very difficulty year fraught with sickness and loss. I love my garden. I am indeed blessed to have it.
'What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
-- Ezra Pound

Happy New Year my friends,
Pamela x


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Bounty from the Summer Garden

'Bounty' is definitely the wrong word here, because it denotes 'abundance' and 'plenty.' I am thrilled, however, that the cool season crops I planted in late August yielded enough red beets for me to pickle. I canned six jars of them this week, not a bounty, but my late planting of cool-season crops, a 'first' for me, also resulted in an abundance of lettuce, radishes, and spinach. In spite of benign neglect, partly due to time away from home, and partly due to the little rabbit who removed the tops of so many vegetables in the springtime, my kitchen garden produced more than enough food for the two of us. You will find green beans, snow peas, rhubarb, and shredded zucchini (for zucchini bread) in my freezer. We ate the last cabbage with dinner last night. Plenty of onions, red and yellow, await my culinary efforts, plus those six jars of pickled beets in my canning cupboard. Our favorite root vegetable, the parsnip, grows sweeter by remaining in the ground. Surely, many of you have a bigger bounty, but I'm happy with mine.

Read all about my 2014 kitchen garden by clicking here.

Cool weather crops: beets, lettuce, spinach, and radishes
I prepared the bed for the first frost.
Fleece protected the crops until I harvested them.
Just a small tray of beets, but enough for me to can.
Only 6 jars, but better than none.
All onions are harvested now. I dig up parsnips as needed as long as the ground isn't frozen.
Last week I picked the last of the spinach for my son-in-law who loves it.

Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings, Carol of May Dreams Gardens, and Mary Ann who blogs at Gardens of the Wild, Wild West started a virtual garden club for everyone growing their own food, flowers or herbs. Click on the 'Dear Friends and Gardeners' badge in my sidebar to learn more about it. I'm joining too late for this year, but I am all ready for 2015 when I plan on writing monthly postings about my kitchen garden.

Speaking of Dee, I must tell you I received some exciting news this morning: I won a fantastic prize for participating in a cyber book party that I first learned about on Dee's blog. The party, thrown by Fran Soren at Gardening Gone Wild, celebrated the 10th Anniversary and re-release of her groundbreaking book, Digging Deep. I'm reading Fran's book right now and recommend it for all gardeners. I won Prize #1 – Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds — 19 handpicked varieties of veggies and flowers- valued at over $50. PLUS, a 3-pack selection of Authentic Haven Brand Tea, a premium soil conditioner. An early Christmas present; how fantastic! I am overjoyed! When the seeds arrive, I will begin planning my 2015 garden and will post more about the competition and prize.

Now back to writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and decorating the house ... busy, busy season. Have a wonderful one!

Pamela x

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