For my last post in 2019, I thought it might be fun to look back at this year in review – what I’ve learned and what I’m hoping for in 2020.
The meadow garden at the top of the driveway put on its usual, effortlessly beautiful show this year. That’s my favorite garden bed. In some ways, it stays the same from year to year and yet it’s always changing, too, as flowers seed themselves around into new spots.
An interesting success (though whether or not it really was a success will depend upon your perspective) was all the seedlings that showed up in the front steps. Here’s what it looked like before I transplanted all these lovely, free baby plants to other spots in the garden.
Mostly, they’re strawberries and foxglove penstemon that seeded themselves in from the adjoining garden beds.
Did they make the steps look untidy before they were transplanted? They did.
But this is also one of the things that makes gardening so interesting.
Had I been super-diligent about ripping the youngsters out, the steps would have looked better.
On the other hand, it was just a couple of hours’ worth of pleasant work one morning to dig the little things out, transplant them, and smooth the gravel back out. Then the steps were back to looking good again . . . and I had a bunch of free plants.
And now I know an interesting new factoid. An inch or so of gravel over soil can make quite a good seeding medium. Now that I know that, I might try to reproduce it deliberately elsewhere. (And who knows, maybe even go back to weeding the steps. 😊)
Closing out “what’s worked,” as always, I love seeing the wildlife share our space. This year, some of the highlights were a little spotted fawn and a wood frog. Though I can’t credit my garden for them, I look forward to the spring peepers every year and this spring was no exception. And my quirky, beautifully burbling Carolina wrens are always a joy.
What Didn’t Exactly Work
It seems like no year passes by without some regret over procrastination of one sort or another. This year, the victim was the new garden on the far side of the driveway.
Last year, we (quite laboriously) removed the quince tree and planted a couple of New Jersey Tea shrubs and a black haw in its place. That created the new backbone for this garden, but it wasn’t until this spring that I planted perennials.
I know perfectly well that a first-year perennial garden needs to be kept weeded, weeded, weeded, and watered, watered, watered.
And I had perfectly honorable intentions.
But did I actually do either of those things?
I did not.
Back to the drawing board next spring. (Though it will be interesting to see who survives the neglect because those may very well be the plants I recommend next year!) 😊
An Unexpected Lesson
One of the surprise lessons from this year is the result of sharing my garden publicly.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I love gardens but freely admit that I don’t love garden maintenance. And as far as hiring help, there have always been other things that I either find more important or simply preferable to spend my money on.
A cottage-y type vibe has been the perfect answer for me: lush, abundant, billowing, casual, largely carefree. The fact that a high percentage of the plants are native brings in the wildlife that I love. And so long as I wasn’t sharing my garden (beyond the fact that it exists and is visible to neighbors and passersby), I was confident in its beauty and utility.
But I’ve noticed that in blogging, part of me is apologetic for those very same qualities because I’m anticipating push back.
There’s a part of me that appreciates the tailored, the streamlined, the every detail “just so” in garden designs. And that part of me assumes that people are going to look at my gardens and dismiss them with, “What a mess!”
So my resolution for 2020 is no more apologizing for what’s working for me.
Instead, I’m going to trust that what I’m doing will resonate with some people. It doesn’t have to appeal to every person to be a good thing. (Different strokes for different folks, after all, right?)
I’ll be back in mid-January with new material, but meanwhile, here’s wishing you many happy times with family and friends as 2019 (the calendar year, not the gardening season) winds down! ❤️