YAY: The perennials in my garden are filling in nicely, and where they haven’t, I used annuals, and together they attracted lots of bird and pollinators. I’ve added several bird feeders and moved the bird bath to a more protected location, with good results.
YAY: As planned in my downsizing move to a townhouse, the garden needed very little upkeep, especially compared to my monstrous-seeming former garden on a hillside. With no lawn and two large patios, I can weed and water the whole thing in less than an hour.
BOO: Plants with the important job of providing screening are taking their good time, especially the Arborvitae ‘Emerald Green.’ And worse, they’re losing needles in spots. At least they’re not as sickly as the ‘Blue Maid’ Hollies I thought would provide screening, of which most are already dead, thanks to some fungal disease that I’d have to spray to combat for the rest of my life. Not gonna happen.
YAY: Gardening activism in this small town is long overdue, so ripe for success. We had our first plant swap, an easy-to-organize, feel-good, garden-friendly event if there ever was one, and we’ll continue them each spring and fall. In lieu of an actual garden club (dues-collecting, speaker-booking – nooooooo!) the swaps will keep us gardeners in touch, as will the local Yahoo group for gardeners that I started, which is being used to swap advice, extra plants, and rides to gardening events. Most exciting of all was the Less Lawn Garden Tour in early September, which attracted people from across the region and contributed to gardeners and gardener-wannebees meeting other local gardeners. For the organizer – this newbie in town – it meant getting to know 15 other serious gardeners who are neighbors. I’ve been walking by and snooping on their gardens ever since.
BOO: For a city that started in the ’30s with abundant victory gardens, the condition of the community gardens now is quite a surprise, starting with the lack of water supply! One hurdle to petitioning the town for water is the subset of gardeners against it, fearing that it would just bring in more gardeners (wtf?) and also unwanted government involvement. (Kind of a libertarian subgroup here – though the gardens ARE on city land.) And even more contentious is the campaign by gardeners to have the weed trees growing up around the gardens cut down to restore sun to plots around the edges. Trouble is, the gardens were carved out a “forest preserve,” so treehuggers are successfully fighting to save the encroaching weed trees, and veg gardeners had better switch to – what, hostas? There’s also a battle between IPMers and the organic-only advocates, of course. All very discouraging, and more than enough conflict to keep me away.
Coming up in 2014
This look back has me wondering what I might be writing a year from now, and how I might create more yays than boos.
- Now that I’m becoming used to the less-than-scenic views I was so frantic to hide initially, I expect to be less anxious for the screeners to grow, dammit! I hope to be a mellower gardener this year, more focused on enjoying the wildlife IN the garden.
- As much as everyone would love it, I won’t be organizing another garden tour any time soon, though if someone else wants to, I’ll help. I’m hoping to be busy this year with another, much bigger garden-type project…
- To wit, if just one of the applied-for grants comes through, I’ll be working with two local landscape architects (Sharon Bradley and Lanshing Hwang) on an updated master plan and tree replacement plan for the whole city, plus garden-design and plant-list suggestions for the residential spaces – gardens. How this scheme came about is thanks to one GardenRant reader who wrote to tell me that since Greenbelt is famous among landscape architects, I should contact the local chapter for help. I did, and found two savvy professionals nearby (one literally across the street from me) who’ve already worked with the city and with a large federal agency here and are raring to go. So thanks, landscape-architect Rant reader whose name and location I’ve long forgotten!