Resolutions For Our Gardens In 2014
On a sunny winter day I walked around my property and made a list of projects I should do in 2014. I knew I’d find a few, but easily found a dozen. Maybe these will encourage you to make your own resolutions for the upcoming year — or volunteer to come help me with mine!
In general I am pretty satisfied with my gardens. Yes, they always have some weeds, both in the vegetable garden and in my flower beds. I resolve to weed more in 2014, and, more importantly, to take my own advice and weed for at least a few minutes every day. Even five or 10 minutes each day makes a big difference. I know it.
And there are some vigorous plants that have taken over sections of some beds and need to be cleaned out or gotten under control. I resolve to work harder at doing so. I have some goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) that has taken over a few places, and I know now that it is impossible to totally rid my gardens of it. Even if I were willing to use powerful chemical herbicides, which I am not, I could not get rid of it. I will, however, work harder at keeping it contained. I will try to contain it with landscape fabric covered with bark mulch.
I need to clear out young trees that are popping up around older trees. Trees drop seeds, and too many of those seeds germinate and start to grow, even if they are just a few inches from a mature tree. These babies crowd existing trees, and basically have no future. Instead of letting a young maple grow six inches from a mature pine tree, better to cut if off at the base. This is work that I can do now, before heavy snows fall. I can cut these fledglings off right at ground level.
It is time to add some limestone or wood ashes to my lawn around my maples. This is something I can do now. Maples suffer from the effects of acid rain: the much needed calcium in the soil gets dissolved and washes away. I have a few old sugar maples that are in poor health so I will give them a nice shot of calcium (in the form of wood ash) that I will spread around the trees. How much? I suppose I should get a soil test done and weigh out the quantity of ash according to a formula. But so long as I don’t add an excessive quantity, I feel a “good sprinkling” is fine.
I have two cedar structures that I built for supporting vines and both need some attention, which I resolve to give them in 2014. One is a simple entryway with a sloped “roof” that leads into my vegetable garden. It supports a clematis and an “Amethyst Blue” wisteria. The other is a hexagon with a tall teepee-like roof that supports a “Blue Moon” wisteria and some grapes. The supporting structures are made from cedar fence posts (which last almost forever), but the thin branches of cedar I used for the roofs have started to rot and fall apart after 15 years or so. I was determined to make the repairs in 2013, but failed to do so.
I have some wetlands behind my stream that I have never utilized fully. The area is mostly grown up in willows and alders. This year I’d like to get rid of some of those, and plant more colorful shrubs: winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and red- and yellow-twigged dogwood (Cornus sericea). I have planted some marsh marigolds in that area, but they are largely obscured. It’s time to clean out some of the volunteer growth. I want to keep it wild looking, not manicured, but I do love color in wintertime.
And speaking of willows, I have a willow that I planned to keep about 10 feet tall or so, but it has gotten to be more than twice that. I will do some radical pruning this year and next. One should never hack a tree back (I mean prune) more than 30 percent in a year, so I can’t do it all at once.
I have a Darwinian flower bed, one that I never weed, one where only the fittest survive, but this coming year I resolve to do a little work there. The tall goldenrods, as much as I love them, have become too dominant. They are elbowing out the fall asters and a few other things. So I mowed the bed last fall, and will try to identify and dig up some of the goldenrods (Solidago spp.) in June. Maybe that will mean finding a young helper, or an intern, with a strong back to work with me.
I planted a spirea “Mellow Yellow” in a dry shady place a few years ago after seeing one growing in a woodland garden in Lyme. But mine has not developed the good color I saw there, so in 2014 I’ll move it to a sunnier location. Shade comes in many varieties, and I think more sun will help this plant.
So that’s a good start with the garden resolutions. Send me yours, and if I get enough good suggestions, maybe I can do a column of reader resolutions. I’m at email@example.com or P.O. Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746. I will use only first names, so don’t be bashful! Include the town where you live, please. And all my best to you for the New Year!
Henry Homeyer is the author of 4 gardening books. His web site is www.Gardening-Guy.com.