Flowers in bloom—this is the opportune time to assess existing plants and make lists of plants to add.
I like to examine the plants in my beds in a “personal” manner as I prune them, cut them back or remove some of the winter leaves from their crowns. Much of my garden is an experiment. I plant new things each year and in the spring I see if they have withstood the conditions in my garden. Last year I planted a white Thalictrum—oh, it was lovely! But the voles thought it was tasty. I planted some red heuchera—whew, they were stunning! But they didn’t like my soil. I planted three orange roses. I LOVE orange roses and they’re hard to find. Voles found one and ate the roots completely.
I NEED to add many more spring–blooming bulbs EVERYWHERE! Each fall I add some, but I get that guilt thing and think I’m spending too much. Well, this year I pledge to get over that. I might get 200 daffodils instead of the measly 50 I got last fall. I also need more scilla, chionodoxa, muscari, about a gazillion crocus tommasianus (the kind that squirrels don’t eat) and a lot more multi-flowering hyacinths. These have multiple stems and are more “natural” looking than the ones we usually see.
When we bought this house years ago, we had a major vole problem. They moved on when I began to make the garden and there had been no sign of them UNTIL…two years ago. I enclosed the back of the property to keep deer out and planted some tulips as an experiment. Tulips are one of my favorites! I think voles can smell tulips from a very great distance, because the tulips did not get to bloom once. I hope they don’t find the hostas I tucked in last year.
Years ago, I planted three spring-blooming camellias. These are at garden centers for only a short time, and when I saw them, I had to have them. One color wouldn’t do, so I bought three plants. They begin blooming at this time of year and have flourished on the side of my house—they’re great, blousy ladies. I recently saw camellias again and bought a winter blooming one as another experiment.
I’m a gardener because I’m a “plant nerd.” Plants are my favorite part of gardening. Design is important, but at my house it’s to show off the plants. Consequently, my landscape is almost all beds. It’s a geometrical design to showcase plants and it also works well with the house. I have built new beds just for one plant I had to have.
Two years ago, I passed a Red Dragon contorted hazel. I was totally smitten, but it was expensive and I didn’t have a place to put it. I walked past that plant on three more visits to the store, and the fifth time, I just bought it. It sat in its pot until late summer, when I realized I had to plant it and decided to make a new bed just for it. Well, the bed needed to be larger than the plant in order to look good, so now I have more room for other experiments. I planted an Amarcrinum, a new bearded iris, a perennial verbena, a new hollyhock…
Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067. jeanellemyersfinegardening.com