Look for ways to cut back in your overcrowded garden. Consider cutting back on potatoes, dahlias and clematis, and limit water-greedy plants and space hogs.
IT’S A BRAND-NEW year with all new possibilities, so what might we do differently now that we’re gardening in the year 2016? We’re all pressed for time; the world is pressed for resources; and last summer was the hottest and driest ever in the Northwest. So a little soul-searching and fresh gardening intentions might be in order at this resolution-making time of year.
Let’s be real about perennial resolves like pulling every weed before it goes to seed, and pruning often enough to keep the wisteria from swallowing up the garden. Not likely. But after coming in from walking around my winter garden, cup of tea in one hand and my iPhone in the other to record its considerable dismalness, here are a few things I hope and intend to do differently in the coming months:
Get rid of some of the pots, especially the dinky ones. Last summer, it didn’t seem like I could water them enough, which meant using more water than I’d like, with unsatisfactory results. Design- and care-wise, it makes sense to go for fewer and larger containers. Maybe when I have no room for a new plant, this resolve will prevent me from bringing it home anyway and sticking it in a pot.
Yes, it’s possible to have too many plants. Way too many plants. You know how in springtime, you have amnesia about what will grow in and up later in the season to fully occupy all those bare spots? I resolve not to fill in every inch of soil in March and April, a discipline that hopefully will make the garden less crowded, easier to care for and more coherent. I’m admitting, right here and now, that I don’t have room for, and will not plant, potatoes or any more dahlias or clematis. Or any more anything, really, without a serious culling of existing plants.
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And what is getting the boot, or at least transplanted, is any plant so thirsty that on a warm day it wilts down by afternoon when it had been watered in the morning. This means fewer ligularia and hosta, which are mostly decimated by slugs and snails, anyway. So slug-tattered, water-greedy plants are out. Except for hydrangeas, which I plan to group nearer together to make the most of the least irrigation.
Just when vegetables are ripening in my garden, farmers markets stock the same fresh, organic produce I’m growing. So I plan to cut way back on space-gobblers like cauliflower and broccoli, and support the local growers instead. This leaves more space for flowers, most of which I can’t find in any market, and the edibles I most love to pick from the garden, like lettuces, arugula, herbs, raspberries and blueberries.
My last resolution will be the easiest to keep: I’m going to take an iPhoneography workshop from photographer David Perry. I know of no better way to train the eye and sharpen design skills than poring over photos of your own garden taken in every season. Here’s the theory: Maybe if I shoot enough photos when the garden is most abundant, it’ll prevent me from overplanting, once again, come spring. It’s worth a try.