The 2013 Garden

January-garden.jpgIt doesn’t seem possible that almost 365 days have gone by since I took this picture in January of 2012.  I recollect that we had almost nothing in the way of snow cover last winter; this modest January snow was a welcome relief from the winter grays.  But what interested me most was how the snow illustrated the pruning practices of this particular gardener.  This privet hedge has been sheared flat, and just above the previous year’s growth, for at least the past 3 years.  It is a paradox, or at the least ironic, that pruning  a branch results in a proliferation of growth via multiple shoots at the site of the cut. Eventually this yearly shearing will result in a mass of shoots on top so dense that light and air cannot penetrate to the interior.  A hedge deprived of light and air to the interior will decline.  I try to prune my deciduous hedges to look like a slice of swiss cheese.  In and out, low and high-plenty of places for light to penetrate.  Although I shouldn’t presume a gardener is in charge here, even the most experienced gardener makes pruning cuts that they wish they hadn’t.  A slight snow in January will tell all.

February-garden.jpgFebruary is typically a very snowy month in my zone. That snow cover is insulation against temperature extremes that can heave plants out of the ground .  A February with no snow is a worry.  Plants go dormant for the winter, in order to avoid injury. A cover of snow keeps my plants snugly dormant.  No unwanted mid winter wake up.  Given how brutal our winters can be, I favor plants that are tolerant of a wide range of winter conditions.  I save my lust for plants not hardy in my zone for my containers-so much less heartbreak.

March-garden.jpgThis March I did some major pruning.  Jack from Guardian Tree in Ann Arbor headed back my out of control Princeton Gold maples. He topped my arborvitae at 14 feet.  And he removed an old maple in serious decline from girdling roots. Years ago I planted parrotias and magnolias around this maple, knowing the day would come when it would no longer be viable.  I was glad not to have to watch large portions of the the tree fail to leaf out.  The understory trees will thrive, given more light, and better access to water and nutrients.

April-garden.jpgApril is all about the spring light. Not so warm, this light, but there is the promise of the gardening season to come. The maples leafed out with abandon. Jack had cut the maples back so hard I was worried it would be years before they looked good.  My worries were unfounded.  He will be back this coming March.  The maintenance of a hedge of trees requires a regular commitment.  In April I was glad I had gone ahead and had the trees pruned.

early-May-garden.jpgLate April belongs to the magnolias.  The bark, the sculptural habit, and large glossy leaves would be enough to include them in any small garden, but the flowers are swoon worthy.  This April day, the green maple flowers and magnolia petals peppered the driveway.  I parked in the street. This was a perfect early spring moment.

late-May.jpgIn May, the garden sings.  Every plant is covered with fresh new growth.  The grass is green beyond green.  A pair of old Palabin lilacs on standard flower as if they were young bucks. The gorgeous shades of green is the story of the May garden.  There is no garden marvel quite like the spring.  All of that will to grow that results in so much fresh growth is energizing.  Spring is the best tonic any gardener could hope for.  Late May-the peony buds swell and open-operatic.

mid-June-garden.jpgJune is the time that the roses hold forth.  I would not do without them, no matter how small my garden.  Some years are better than others, but they always enchant me.  The color and the perfume-heavenly. My roses have grown in this spot for 15 years or better.  The most I do is to prune in April, and July, and I dead head until mid-August.  I do not mind the fussing.  They reward me many times over.  My little urban garden-infused with romance in mid June.

In July, the roses are still representing.  The big pot has been planted, and the boxwood has been pruned.  Every day the four of us go to the rose garden.  The corgis know exactly what I mean when I say “Let’s go see the roses”.  They get there long before I do.  I treasure the late day in this garden.  The temperature has cooled off.  The arborvitae shield the hot summer sun.  I am done working for the day.  This is my idea of a garden which is a sanctuary.

late-August-garden.jpgIn late July, the Limelight hydrangeas come into bloom.  Though we had a cold and rainy summer that was not so friendly to my container plantings, the hydrangeas were stellar.  They were laden with flowers.  The foliage was a very healthy green.  The herniaria carpeting the ground plane of this garden loved the cool and rainy summer.

September-garden.jpgAugust was notable for the street trees that were cut down by the city.  They were rotted and hollow-I worried they would fall and hurt someone.  As sure as I was that they needed to come down, I regretted their demise.  Big trees are a treasure-their loss is not to be taken lightly.

September was a great month for my garden. My container gardens finally picked up speed.  The weather cooled.  The grass grew like crazy.

October-garden.jpgOctober-one realizes the garden is waning.  The season will come to a close.  Parting from the garden is hard..  Buck shut down the fountain in mid October-over my protests.  I did not want to let go.  He knows when it is time to say goodby.   How the moss grew in the still water!

November-garden.jpgEarly December-an ice storm.  The ice coating every surface is beautiful, and alarming.  There was nothing to be done, except to hope for the best, and endure.  No matter my worries, plants do a good job of protecting themselves from harm.  They have lots of coping mechanisms for which I am grateful. So many things that govern a garden are out of my hands.  But in the end, the will to live and prosper is a powerful force indeed.

December-garden.jpgThis gardening year may not have been my most favorite ever, but I appreciate what I had.  There is much to learn and live by, via the garden.

Once A Year. This Is It!

We have been slammed at the shop since this past Monday.  Detroit Garden Works conducts one sale a year.  From the day after Christmas until January the 8th, we put every holiday item on sale for 50% off-and everything and anything else in the shop at 20% off.  Should you be a gardener interested in a bit of a bargain-once a year, we oblige.  This is it.  Jenny has plenty of pictures posted;  After the 8th, we are open by chance or by appointment until March 1.  This gives us some time to travel, shop, repaint, clean, and plan.  So should you have a mind to drop by after January 8, email us, call ahead, or knock on my front door.        

Gardening might be best defined as a “this is it” pursuit. Should I neglect to plant crocus in the fall, I will have plenty of time regret it, come spring.  Should I not take the time to see and enjoy my March crocus, I might miss them. A two day span of exceptionally cold weather-those flowers will vanish-until next year.  There are times when I might turn back the clock, or ask for an extension-but time waits for no garden. Tune in to the crocus, or wait until next year.   

The hellebore flowers are not nearly so fragile.  They stay with me for a while in late March and April.  I make it my spring business to look at them every day.  Planting them on the driveway was no accident; I have two chances every day to enjoy them.   How the flowers emerge from the ground, mature, and dry right on the stalk is a process that takes weeks.  But once those weeks pass, hellebore heaven will have to wait until next year.  I leave the flowers be, hoping some seed will mature, drop and grow.        

I may photograph the tulips outside my office every day.  Like the hellebores, observing their manner of emerging from the ground and growing is a yearly treat.  The flowers are glorious.  They come in an extraordinary range of sizes, colors and forms.  For my pots in the garage, I bought smaller numbers and as great a variety as I could.  Why not try as many as possible?  I was caight flat footed by the early cold this fall; the pots were outdoors a little too long. Every time I look at these pots filled with dirt, I search for signs of a bulb-fest to come.  Nothing doing.  I’ll have my this is it moment, for better or for worse, months from now.     

With the exception of double bloodroot, no flower is more fleeting than the magnolia.  Really cold spring weather can shut down the show before it even opens.  No matter than you have a valid ticket. Should I be so fortunate to have a good show from my Galaxy magnolia, I can be assured it will not be a long one.  I have 2 chairs and a table on my upper deck.  They are placed to take advantage of the aerial view pictured above.   I may need a coat and hat, but I am out there. The ephemeral beauty of everything that blooms in my garden has much to do with why 2011 will be my 33rd gardening season.   

I cannot remember another year when the roses were this prolific. 2010 provided spectacularly great growing weather from early spring through June.  This John Davis rose of Janet’s was smothered in flowers for weeks. Wherever I saw roses, they were glorious.  Janet, who devotes her summer gardening life to her roses insisted that I come and spend some time with hers.  I am so glad I did.  On both of our minds-is this it?  Is this the best the roses will ever be?    

Even the Queen Anne’s Lace in the field was lush.  Regular rain early, and a very hot and dry July made the meadow next door look dreamy.  This was nature at its weediest best.      

The sunflower season is one of my favorites.  I buy them at market as often as I can.  There is not a form shape or color I do not like-although the orangy brown varieties seem a little silly.  I like my sunflowers to remind me of the sun, and sunny summer days.  I like to have bouquets of them throughout the season.  These stems I stuck into a large brick of oasis taped into a clear floral dish.  Sunflowers are big, heavy and unwieldy.  Worst of all, the water fouls quickly, and needs frequent changing.  I set this dish on top of a glas vase full of water which I tinted yellow with food coloring.  Amazingly, sunflowers last for days out of water altogether. 

By the time my Honorine Jobert anemones start blooming, I know the end of the season is not long off. The cooler nights make this once a year display go on for quite some time.  But once the nights turn very cold, the flowers vanish-until next year.   

The fall color on the Boston Ivy was short lived this year.  Some leaves dropped from cold before they turned. The color-not so great as it was in 2009.  But I had no complaints.  Once a year, I have my chance to enjoy it.