Garden Gnome: New Year brings garden plans

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A new year arrives with hope for a better economy and many opportunities to do better by others, ourselves and our plants.

Often in the gardening season, it’s not because I don’t know what to do as it is I that fail to do something because time or effort is lacking.

Take for example rose care. They require extra care – they must have consistent treatment to prevent disease and insect damage, and their fertilizer and water needs also require commitment. And they have somewhat demanding pruning needs.

So, on my list of New Year’s resolutions, I added the annual “take better care of the roses”. But I think I have a good idea for accomplishing it in 2012: I’m going to set aside one calendar just for gardening. I know there’s nothing ground-shaking about the idea, but if I can note the first time I treat, feed and prune, then I can mark the calendar for the following months the exact dates to repeat the steps.

Many gardeners use a diary to keep up on chores and plant needs, but it hasn’t worked very well for me. So New Year’s Day I filled in the months with a set of chores. Then as seeds are planted, compost is incorporated into beds and new growth is seen, it can be logged onto the calendar, and the follow-up needs for each deveopment can then be noted in the following months.

Now if I could just find a way to make myself do tool repairs before the pruners become so dull they only bend thin branches instead of slicing through them ...

Other New Year’s resolutions this year:

Do cuttings from the camellias in the front yard to give to others, especially of the one favored by someone who grew up in our old house where the camellias were planted at least two if not three decades ago.

Severely prune back several plants that have become bullies in the garden areas. It was on the agenda in 2011 but the crashing of a giant oak and an eye injury interrupted last spring’s to-do list.

Take stock of each garden area. Write, draw and photograph each area to show the locations of all plants for better, OK it’s initial, formal planning. The ideal gardens have plants of interest throughout the year, or at least through the majority of it. That means staggered blooming and the addition of plants with interesting form, texture and foliage. By doing the research, I can look and think it over while sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of my favorite chair instead of trying to figure it out while standing in the hot sun with mosquitoes feasting away.

And in 2012, I commit myself to winning the war against monkey grass, English ivy and North Carolina cherry seedlings, well, at least continue the battles.


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