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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice And Gardening

One of my favorite days of the year!  It is the most natural holiday I know.  The days start getting longer.  It means the next season is Spring.  Spring means light, warmth, and gardening.  And I am planning a lot for next year.

25 years ago, I was deeply into perennial flowers.  I bought from an online place that sold 3-packs for $5 and planted a dozen here and a dozen there, etc.  Some perennials aren't very long-lived; they kept dying out slowly and there would always be holes in the flowerbed.  And even at 3 for $5, they aren't cheap.  My flowerbed is 75'x8', so 300 perennials would cost $500 and half died out after 3 years.  And perennials only flower for a few weeks.

So I switched to annuals after I retired.  Annuals flower all season, they are available as seeds, and they are easy to grow.  Planting each year is a bit annoying, but I have time and 40 sq ft of lighted shelves (a 5 shelf 4'x2' rack with 4 4' fixtures in the basement).  Plus a 4 shelf 3'x2' stand at the southern-facing deck glass doors upstairs for germinating seeds that want warmth.

Anyway...  I can grow a lot on annuals from seeds.

But I still want some more permanent plantings.  I discovered "cottage garden" planting this past month.  It's a combination of long-lived perennials and self-sowing annuals.  And you plant stuff at random.  No big patches of one flower here and another there.  The idea seems to be that what thrives thrives and empty spaces self-fill.

We'll see!  I am going to give it a try.  Large portions of my flowerbed were flowerless last year, so most of it needed to be re-done anyway.

I have a large serious roto-tiller for work in large areas.  But this will take some detailed tilling.  So I bought a 10" wide electric tiller in September.  My first attempts using it were dismal!

The grassy weeds wrapped around the tiller blades.  10 minutes tilling meant 10 more minutes cutting and pulling grass off the blades.  I learned to use my string trimmer to cut the grass tops off and rake them away.  Then use the tiller to chop up the soil.  There were still roots that wrapped around the tiller blades, but easier to remove.  Better than manual shovel work, anyway!

I have a catalog from a company that offers a wide variety of cottage garden plants and seeds.  It is from 2011 (I keep interesting catalogs), and I have arranged to get a 2017 catalog in early January.  I have some long-lived perennials that will suit a cottage garden (coneflowers, goldenrods, daylilies), and I will be ordering seeds of self-sowing annuals when the catalog arrives.  I may order a few plants for which growing from seed is very complicated.

And I have 2 planting areas in the middle of the yard that I didn't do anything with this year.  Nice edged areas I can mow around to control invasive flowers.  I want one to be for Lysimachia ‘Firecracker".  It's invasive.  I tried to kill it for 2 years and it keeps coming back.  So next Spring, I'm going to transplant it to a 10' edged circle and mow around it.  That should stop the "invasiveness".  It's annoying but lovely.  Purple foliage and bright yellow flowers most of the Summer.

The 2nd edged area will be a wildflower patch.  I scattered seeds from a packet I bought last Fall.  The instructions said to raked the soil roughly, scatter the seeds and smooth soil over them lightly.  I got a few flowers, but not many.  Most are perennials that need 2 or 3 years to flower, so I will give them time.  

But another old catalog I have offers high-quality seeds suited for scattering on bare ground in Winter.  That's actually the way they normally grow, so I'm going to give that a try.  And they offer a flowering enhancement packet for $10 to give some flowers the first year.  I'm going for 2 of those.

The 3rd edged area is mostly planted already with caged tulips, caged hyacinths, and lots of daffodils.  I added 2 dozen daylilies, some common and some fancy.  

This year, I thought I would remember exactly where the tulips and hyacinths were.  HA HA HA!  Next Spring, I will mark the spots with landscaping flags so that I can plant flowers in between the spots.  I want no spot to be un-planted if I can manage it.  The bulbs like to stay dryish most of the year, so I need to plant Summer flowers that don't mind dry conditions.  So I may plant 200 marigolds of various varieties among them.  They like hot dry conditions too.  The point being that I will never deliberately water that 3rd edged bed.

They will do fine with normal rainfall, I just won't add to it.

A cottage garden bed, a wildflower bed, a purple Lysimachia bed, and a Spring bulb/Summer annual bed...  Should be a good view from the deck!

1 comment:

Megan said...

Sounds wonderful. And yes, planting from seeds is much much cheaper and always seems a bit magical to me. But let's just see if you can grow a kangaroo paw plant!

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