January is for...just relaxing, and starting a
gardeners deserve a break. As much as we love the flowers and fruits of
our labors, the digging, weeding and raking can get old fast, especially
the faster we get old. Luckily, our climate affords us this much-needed
our hands need not be idle. Planning is a necessary part of gardening, and
a gardening journal is a valuable way to guide us in the timing and
execution of that plan.
some will argue that gardening shouldn't be a rigid, formal exercise that
inhibits creative or spur-of-the-moment choices. I'll agree -- to a point.
basic planning will benefit every garden. God knows I've moved many of my
plants so often they've yet to reach full maturity, even though they are
beyond it. And with a freshly dug phlox on my shovel, I've even headed to
the planting hole I THOUGHT I was going to put it, then stopped, dug
another and planted it there instead.
truth be told, these unplanned departures don't always result in the
desired result: a pleasing combination of colors, textures, shapes and
heights that bloom in succession over an extended period.
great way to plan for the coming gardening year is to take pictures during
the previous one.
many of us think we know each plant as well as our own children, only to
quizzically ponder a certain spot that's breaking ground early showing
fuzzy, serrated leaves. (It might be pulsatilla vulgaris, a nifty white to
rose-flowered early bloomer with a yellow eye.) By marking the name and
location of each plant on its corresponding picture (especially bulbs),
this can become the basis of a winter review of your existing garden plan.
gardening journal is a key element in this, more so if you've taken the
time to record things like when and where you've purchased special plants;
how they performed; whether you've moved them and, perhaps the biggest
help, what the weather's been like that season.
information recorded since 1996 has proven invaluable to me in tending my
gardens. Here are some excerpts from my journal:
1, 2000: Cut up Christmas tree, put over tender plants and raked; temp 50
26, 1996: Weather in the 50's and thunderstorms. Raked 90 gallons of
hickory nuts. Ground still frozen.
9, 1998: BLIZZARD! Lost 35-foot pine tree Nancy gave us 17 years ago; had
planned a shade border there.
17, 1996: First roses open, Sonia and Garden Party.
4, July, 1999: In the 100's and just a sprinkle. Got lots of daylilies at
Judy's, Coburg and Brookwood.
9, 1997: Japanese beetles on the run. No real blackspot.
29, 1996: 80 mph winds, heavy rain and temp goes from 70 degrees to 30
degrees. No power for 9 hours. Roses still coming.
18, 1999: Still no killing frost; 70 degrees. Dug out rose Dark Lady.
20, 1998: First real cold and measurable snow.
keep my journal beside my bed; others may prefer the kitchen or home
office. The point is to keep it handy so you can use and quickly refer to
it. And don't just write about what you've done; include some projects
you'd like to do.
the most important thing about planning any garden is to be realistic.
Once you plant it, you maintain it. Good soil, well-chosen plants and
generous mulch cut down on the work, but there's still spring clean-up,
fertilizing, deadheading, insect treatments and cutting back to be done.
thoughtfully planned, well-tended garden, no matter how small, is far more
satisfying than a big one that's diseased and overgrown.
to Visit: If you've already seen enough dirty grey snow to last the
winter, visit www.daylilyworld.com
"New Daylilies" pack a wallop of color and a wallop of a price.
Because there aren't many of each beauty available, stunners like Art
Imperial, an opulent orange/red, and Counted Shadows, a ripe pineapple
yellow with multi-hued purple eyezone, both sell for $150.00 each.
of the Month: Save the rigid plastic stretchers in your next pair of
shoes. I use them to mark where I've planted small transplants and tip
cuttings until I'm sure they'll make it and require a permanent plant
Editor's Note: Paulene Poparad is an avid gardener and
current president of Duneland Garden Club. Her column will appear monthly.