The end of the gardening year is upon us. The annuals are starting their decline as the weather cools, the deciduous shrubs are losing their leaves, and the lawn is covered in yellow and orange leaves.You've worked hard in your garden all year, and now is the time to reflect on the previous season, and start thinking (yes, now!) about spring.
The biggest thing to think about is how much joy your garden brought you this year. Did you love your vegetable garden? Were your bulbs spectacular this past spring? Did the herb garden you had such high hopes for just end up being a headache? Write these things down now, before the long winter sets in and "gardening amnesia" hits. You know what I mean. You swear every summer that you will never, ever plant this many zucchinis again, but in the doldrums of February, when you start your seeds, you just can't help sowing dozens of zucchinis. It's the image of all that lush green, the idea of a bountiful harvest, as we're shivering in sub-freezing temperatures, that makes this happen. Writing down your observations now, and READING THEM come springtime, will protect you against these little challenges.
Another thing to consider now, when the garden is starting to revert to its "bare bones," is the structure and flow of your landscape. Are you pleased with the mix of plant matter in your beds? Were there spots that stayed bare all season? Did something outgrow its space? Was the plant you thought would be perfect in a particular spot a complete dud? Write it down. If it is a shrub that didn't work, tag it, maybe with a bright piece of ribbon tied to one of its branches. This will remind you in the spring that you want to move it. If there are perennials that need to be divided, make a note to yourself so you take care of it when they are just starting to grow in the spring, which will reduce trauma to the plant.
This is also a great time to start thinking about your garden plans for next year.Maybe you decided that all of the hot-colored annuals you planted just weren't what you wanted, and you want a cool, pastel look next year, or maybe you saw a great article about a kind of perennial you've never tried before. Start jotting these things down, so that when you hit the garden center in spring, you'll have your eyes open for just the right thing. It is all too easy to buy what we have always bought, in the colors we usually buy them in. If you write down your ideas now, and look back on them in the spring, you can make a conscious choice about what to buy for your garden.
I readily admit, and my husband will attest to the fact, that I have been bad about this whole "write it down so you'll remember later" thing myself. I always tell myself, "I'll have to write that down," and somehow it never gets written down. The last year or so, I've gotten better at it, and it has made a difference in my garden. I used to plant things rather haphazardly, with no real plan or reason. When I started seeds, I didn't know how many to start, because I had no idea where exactly I would be putting the plants when it was time to plant them out. So, I'd end up starting way too many, or way too few. Things like that are just frustrating, and take some of the fun out of gardening.
None of this is to say that you can't be spontaneous about your garden. We all know that a big part of gardening is falling in love with a plant and determining that you will find some way to use it in your landscape. This won't take that away at all. Instead, what it will do for you, is keep you conscious of where you need to put plants, and what conditions those plants need, so when you see a plant you love, you will automatically know "I have just the place for that!"
So give it a try. Get in the habit of recording all those stray thoughts you have about your garden. You and your garden will both benefit. ITGO