Last year I was an emotional wreck during the months when normally I would have been poring over seed and plant catalogues. Late in spring I ordered plants from just one vendor, and the box sat and sat and finally I gave it away, unopened.
Summer came, and fall, and I did almost nothing in the yard. Every week Enrique’s crew came to mow, but in the gardens, the weeds grew and grew. I had a new passion – crocheting – and spent my money on yarn and other craft supplies instead of on the garden. I spent my time on that, too. The gardens were almost wholly neglected. Fortunately, we had enough rain, so nothing cooked for lack of my interest in watering.
This year, I want to buy plants again. I mean, I really want to buy plants. There are days when I’ve had to take my afternoon tranquilizer early to keep myself from buying plants. I never realized till then how much anxiety contributes to indiscriminate spending.
Why can’t I buy? First, because I have to spend my money judiciously. More important, though is the fact that I have no idea where it’s possible to plant. Until the snow melts, I can’t tell where there is space, what the weed situation is like, or what I want to get rid of.
Well, actually, I do have some idea of what I want to remove, but of course, I can’t get at anything just now. It’s 5 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) as I write. There are shrubs I want to move, and I don’t know where to put them. There are plants I will have to kill with Roundup because they can’t be dug out (see Silphium perfiolatum – Cup Plant for an example).
And there is, finally, the simple fact that I like a garden that has design to it, but I inherited a lot of invasive plants from the prior owner, and they have spread, and spread, and spread. The best way to get the gardens I want would be to rip out almost everything and start over. Buying plants now would mean sandwiching them in wherever I could find (or make) an open space, rather than placing them in thoughtful positions.
There’s also one entire, large garden that is un-plantable. Somebody just spread landscape fabric over a gravel slope, threw a half inch of dirt over it, stuck in a bunch of rocks, and called it a rock garden. They even buried big round composite concrete stepping stones rather than moving them. I’ve managed to wedge a few new plants into it, but most of them aren’t doing well. One variety that should have become a 6-8 foot fountain in its first year is barely making three feet long after three years.
So – painfully I throw away this years’ garden catalogues and delete emails touting great sales from the suppliers I normally use. This year will be for renovation and cleaning. I do have the money to hire landscapers for at least part of the job. I anticipate that many of the plants I do want to keep will have to be potted for much of the summer, until I can find the right places for them. The cup plants, the Joe-Pye weed, the ligularias that self-seed in every crack and crevice – all these must go, along with some very ugly daylilies (and the boring Stella d’Oros) and the horribly invasive ladybells and trumpet vine. The viciously suckering sumac tree is coming out. And all this can’t happen until I have $2000 worth of work done on my huge honey locust and see how much money is left.
No new plants this year. Sorrow.
Update: The sorrow is over. See my new blog, Echo’s Gardens – Renovation and Renewal.
Hi, It is fun to see your garden……I had no idea about the tough invasive species. you are dealing with… You must live in a Northern or higher altitude US zone that gets cold below zero, yet has adequate amounts of rain and good soil, not desert….. Reading your work makes me think omigosh, could I do something…..in the yard….Perhaps I could trim one of my own hedges and work on the lawn to get rid of dandelions and some kind of plant that has “taken over” my side flower bed. Outdoor planting in my area is usually May 23, Queen Victoria’s Birthday, and even that is pushing it. June is safer, Yet people have beautiful gardens and yards. People across the street paid 22000 dollars for a Landscape Architect and insured Northern flowering plants. Looks awesome. Now spring, nothing buds out until about April 26…..Lilacs bloom around Fathers Day.