Lucky 13 is here, which means it is time for resolutions. You know those fantasies that start in January but crash upon the craggy coastline known as reality by February. Let’s change that.
By Chris Cohan
Lucky 13 is here, which means it is time for resolutions. You know those fantasies that start in January but crash upon the craggy coastline known as reality by February. Let’s change that. My first resolution is to begin with a positive approach.
I have a plan. Discard negativism and proceed positively. To accomplish this minor miracle proceed to the garden, where a wide variety of exciting possibilities awaits.
The garden is a place where everything is constantly evolving, unlike architecture where once a kitchen renovation is done, it is done. Not so lucky in the garden. You must remain flexible. Now, in and of itself, that word flexible is a powerful concept. If we end here with you becoming more flexible, 2013 is already a success.
By casting aside rigidity and embracing flexibility you have done more for your well-being than any sports car, mink, or diamond ever will. Don’t get me wrong; I am no ascetic monk. If a new sports car does appear in my driveway, I am prepared to give up my Raleigh 10-speed for a while, at least.
First, discard the word “mistake.” Do not use that word as an excuse to give up. In the garden (of life) if it did not work, it was merely a first try.
Now that we’re in the right frame of mind, let’s consider a few specifics.
• Start small, start in the middle, start anywhere. Just get started. Do not overwhelm yourself.
• Prune and deadhead with abandon. Do not be shy. Plants enjoy and thrive on the sharp cut of a good pair of clippers. By removing spent or fading flowers, you will stimulate new flowers. Right now, remove dead hydrangea flowers. Cut back to ¼ inch before a pair of plumb buds; if you did not prune Rose-of-Sharon mercilessly, please do. Beginning in late winter, reduce the size of your spirea, butterfly bush, and callicarpa.
Callicarpa, what the heck is that — a native that quietly grows into a non-descript small shrub. You miss it while being drawn to showy summer-blooming stunners. Then just when most others are fading, it puts forth the boldest of bold purple-colored seed display in September.
Like bracelets of purple baubles, callicarpa branches take center stage. It is deer resistant, needs minimal care, drought tolerant and handles semi-shade to full sun. Callicarpa grows to 3 feet tall and wide. Birds like the fruits while pollinators like the flowers.
• Go natural. This season fertilize early, prune regularly, mulch, water deeply, and keep your garden clean of dead, dying and diseased material. Maintain that regimen and you are well on your way to a naturally healthy garden.
• Save water by planting drought-tolerant native plants. They handle the warmer and drier weather we are subjected to, stand up to forgetful watering, and many are deer-resistant.
• Deer? Why, I love Bambi, especially cooked medium-rare and paired with a robust Syrah. Seriously, it is time to get serious about deer. They look wasted, spread Lyme disease and cause untold automobile accidents. They devastate gardens. They push gardeners to erect tall fencing. They drive many a pacifist gardener into therapy to confront their conflicted feelings about deer — cute or annihilate? (It’s time for our City and County to initiate a local program to decrease the herd.)
• I digress, back to terra firma. Plant a few vegetables. You will be amazed how many tomatoes one well cared for plant will deliver. Grow and eat them. Nothing beats walking into the vegetable patch, eating tomatoes off the vine or munching on fresh arugula. One planter, whiskey barrel, plastic tub, or freshly turned sunny spot of earth is all you need to get started.
• If you already have a vegetable garden, expand your edible patch. Plant, eat, and share (another positive word entering your vocabulary and psyche) more. Planting two raised beds, 4 x 8 each, is enough space to keep a family of four in fresh vegetables till the frost. Plant kale to have fresh greens in winter. Cold weather actually improves the flavor of the leaves.
Kale, the King of Cold, brings us full circle to 2014. Oh my, where did 2013 go? Now that is the last thing you want to find yourself saying next year. So, get started now. Try, try, and then try again. Before you know it, like your garden you too will have grown.