Working through the 2013 summer project plans
Like many gardeners, I use winter as a time to plan our garden projects. Our kitchen table will be laid out with garden books, (my recent favorite is Landscaping with Native Plants of Wisconsin by Lynn Steiner, Voyageur Press). I will make use of a sketch pad for drawing and making notes and many garden catalogs that start filling our mailbox in January are my inspiration. The native perennials from Prairie Nursery are the foundation of our gardens (I am a little biased…we offer so many great plants that love our sandy soils). Next year’s plans include adding more native shrubs, and I am itching to try shrubs we’ll have available next year; Low bush Blueberry and Snowberry!
Lowbush Blueberry-Vaccinium angustifolium
The grand plans afoot for our gardens and landscape next year:
- Take out the remaining stand of thirsty Ox Eye Sunflower and replace it with Downy Sunflower, a plant happy to live in our sandy soil
- Move the millions of volunteer Lanceleaf Coreopsis that have migrated into the adjacent lawn,
- Add more Little Bluestem and Prairie Dropseed and asters to the hillside garden
- Take out the section of garden overtaken by Norway maple tree roots…
- Revamp woodland gardens, move and transplant Columbine, Wild Ginger and the ever spreading Woodland Sunflower in the shade garden
- Move Oak tree saplings from the Prairie gardens next to the towering 50 foot oak tree
My winter planning this year also includes adding a new butterfly garden. I am using the Pre-planned Karner Blue Butterfly garden from Prairie Nursery.
Our part of Wisconsin is home to the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, and this garden is chock full of plant they use for food and habitat. This kit is perfect for a spot next to our garage, a south facing site that needs plants that can take the heat!The list above is a long one, but my winter enthusiasm for summer projects is boundless and optimistic!
I truly believe gardeners are inherently optimists. We plant our perennials (and annuals) with a hope that they will thrive and grow to be beautiful specimens in our gardens. When a plant does not live up to our expectations, most gardeners I talk to, will say, oh well, let’s try another plant and hope it works out.
We start every garden year with the same sense of purpose and hope most farmers embrace: Yes, the rains will come, the pests and diseases will be few and I will achieve a great crop this year. The joy of seeing newly transplanted perennials gradually forming a beautiful garden is rewarding, and when planting native plants the return our investment sustains native wildlife, and work to preserve soil and water conservation. Knowing these simple native plants attract a myriad of creatures; pollinators, butterflies, birds, insects and animals to our backyard is my motivation.
Swallotail on Blue Flag Iris-Iris versicolor
Now, get to it! As a recently crowned 50 year old, I realize that I don’t have the energy and “get-to-it-with-it-ness” (my Grandma Millie’s old saying) that I had in my 30’s! I am undeterred however; yes, projects happen at a little different pace than they did when I was 30. I look at the gardening a little differently now. My time in our gardens is such great exercise; good for my joints and my psyche, allowing me time to process and ponder life, and reducing stress. As for keeping up, well, I have a partnership strategy, thankfully, my garden helper in my Husband Wayne. He is retired, and when not fishing on the Wolf River or nearly Lake Puckaway, he has the patience and time to spend in the gardens carrying out the plans when I am off to work at Prairie Nursery. As a team we accomplish our projects at a reasonable pace, and it is a gift we have spending time together.
So, we have the winter to rest up, re-energize and, with my plans in hand, I am ready, optimistic hopeful for a great garden year ahead!