The year’s end always invites reflection on what worked and didn’t work, what I liked and didn’t like-what I might want to do differently next year. There’s time for that, over the winter. But other things come more immediately to mind, at year’s end. As I rarely see a plant or a garden that I don’t like, what sticks out in my mind are those great garden moments. I have had years when my March crocus are so blasted by below freezing temperatures they barely bloom. This year, they were glorious-and glorious for quite a while. The night temperatures were perfect; every day for 2 weeks they were an event well worth the price of the ticket.
My hellebores were similarly spectacular this year. The evenly cool temperatures they liked. I was even so inspired to send away for more from Knott Hill Farms. The sweet woodriff coming on is a good companion for them. I have both of these planted in full sun, not far from the road. They not only perform better in this location than my shadier places, they take fewer years to make dreamboat sized clumps.
Spring flowers are like no others. Their fresh color I will not see again until the following spring. The oakleaf lettuce in this box-just as fresh and juicy looking as any spring flower. This is my idea of planting vegetables, by the way. This season was very cool for Michigan; the spring plantings flourished until fairly late in July. I do plant ornamental cabbage in the spring, though it will bolt at the first sign of hot weather. I got lucky this year. This is partly why I favor mixed plantings-you never know what nature might have in store. My roses this year-nothing to talk about.
The blooming of the Venus dogwoods however was spectacular. They were in full bloom, loaded with these giant 7 inch diameter flowers, for over a month. I could not recommend this tree too highly. It is happy in full sun, and very hardy. It grows fast, but stays small. It is the first tree I have planted in my yard in a good many years. If I had the space, I would plant great drifts of them, and let the grass grow rough underneath them.
The morning of July 19 dawned cool and sunny, perfect weather for the garden tour we sponsored to benefit the Greening of Detroit. We had 325 people attend the tour, and 125 for bites and cocktails afterwards at the shop. In addition to all that fun, we raised a good amount for the Greening. It was a perfect garden day.
My favorite time at the farmer’s market begins with sunflower season. Everything is big about them-big size, big color, big heart-big delicious seeds, so loved by the goldfinches. Sunflowers-the name says it all. The summer harvest is well underway.
My summer annuals provide much pleasure to me. I like the planning, the planting, the caring for, the looking at, the deadheading, the watering-I like every aspect of this part of my garden. I do not have the luxury of lots of time to spend in my garden; I work a lot elsewhere. This part I have the time, energy and heart for, every day. Other parts of my landscape have their moments, but the annual flowers provide every day good moments.
I always have one container that’s all green-I particularly enjoy matching and contrasting shapes, textures and volumes of green. Green-who could live without it?
Nicotiana mutabilis is probably my favorite annual flower. Once staked, it flowers its heart out way long into the fall. They are known to send out giant new spikes-in October. Those fluttering flowers-white, pink and rose on the same plant-are a meadow unto themselves- perfect for a small space. This pot is my favorite of 2009.
Like my striped crocus this spring, my white Japanese anemone “Honorine Jobert” had a stellar year. Standing every bit of five feet tall, they were loaded with flowers for weeks. This is a very carefree perennial for me. I do nothing to them, except look, and on occasion, water. I weed the offshoots out of the Carefree roses in the spring-that’s about it. Why they were so robust and heavy flowering this year-I could not say. I can say this was one of my favorite things in my garden this year.
We do not have that many foggy days in Michigan; perhaps this is why I enjoy them so much. This late September morning had just a hint of fall about it. All the vibrant summer color begins to fade. It’s a favorite of mine-living where the seasons change. All in all, it was a very good garden season, 2009.