Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nancy's Garden: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Part One

As we approach the winter solstice and the new year, it is a good time to gather our thoughts and take stock of the gardening year that has just past and start to think about the growing season ahead.

I have spent the last month cleaning up my gardens, planting the last of bulbs, and trying to get my tools in order. Taking advantage of every sunny day, I found myself in deep reverie about my successes and failures of 2013. As I cut plants down, I realized I had some serious new favorites all of the sudden. I also spent quite a bit of time lamenting some things I did wrong and vowing to improve in 2014. Plus, I have already compiled a list of "must have" new plants. I will share my thoughts with you in a series of blog posts. Perhaps my musings will encourage you to also put your thoughts down in words. It is a fitting exercise for this time of year.
Let's start with a couple of my new favorite plants. Topping the list is 'Top Hat' blueberry. I have to say, I planted six of these little beauties last fall, mainly as a border around my new peach tree bed. Growing only two feet tall and wide, I was stunned by the amount of super sweet fruit that kept on producing long after my other high bush blueberries were finished. Plus, this plant is cute as a button in every season, even now when covered with snow. This will become a mainstay in my edible landscaping designs.

The plant that impressed me the most with it's long bloom season was our native Sanguisorba canadensis. The white bottle brush flowers started in early September and continued until the first week in November, providing a never ending source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. I just couldn't stop photographing these unusual flower spikes. Last fall I moved it from a border near a stand of trees to an open spot in deeply dug, enriched clay soil. Well! That made all the difference in the world.

Think about it. What plants really made an impression on you this year? Sometimes it's not the flashy, sexy hybrids that make my list. In this case, it's a couple of hardworking natives.


  1. This is the first year I planted the Mexican Sunflower/Tithonia. Wow! A $2 investment in a seed packet turned into several huge towering "shrubs" of bright orange flowers which were loaded with pollinators mid summer until hard frost. Definitely planting those again.

  2. Simple chocolate cosmos stunned me this year. Tidy, low, full and ever-blooming, it was a performer all summer and into fall. The mass of blooms were a velvety rich red. Not much chocolate smell, but a pretty plant. Definitely planting them next year!