I’ve cleared another 1000 square feet of our property for flower beds instead of lawn, and since it’s on a steep hill and I want it to be relatively low maintenance, I’m trying to find drought tolerant plants that attract butterflies and birds, that will hold the hill in place, and that won’t cost us a fortune to establish.
I also have about a million plants I want to try because I keep seeing them in books and magazines and I love them (globe thistle), or I hear they’re a must have for butterflies and hummingbirds (anise hyssop), or because we had a few come up from the wildflower mix last year and I want more of them (bachelor’s buttons).
Since buying everything I want as fully grown plants would cost almost as much as a used car, I researched what I could start on my own and bought seeds. I’ve been waiting a week for them to get here, and they finally arrived!
I cleared out some of the brush last weekend — old seed heads from Sedum, dried stems from mums — to prepare for the coming planting season. I probably should have done that in October or November, as the garden looks much tidier now. I wanted to leave the seeds for birds, though, so I was torn between having neat beds and providing food for winter friends. I think it might look more depressing without the dried plants than it did with them still intact, as it’s now very bare, so I’m not sure which I like better.
Either way, I think it might be good that I didn’t cut everything back in the fall: the remaining stems collected dry leaves and created an insulating blanket for their roots in these cold temperatures. I’ve read it’s good to mulch perennials in the fall to protect the roots, and since we didn’t do that, maybe my autumn neglect turned out to be a good thing.
That’s about the extent of what I could do outside in December and January, so over the past few weeks I”ve spent a lot of time inside thinking about the garden, poring over gardening books and magazines, popping outside to measure, drawing plans, and then browsing catalogs.
Now that I have these beautiful seed packets, I’m even antsier for spring to come so I can start planting. I keep trying to visualize what the beds will look like when plants come in, and I’ve got a calendar for when to plant what and where. I’ll be able to start some seeds indoors in just a couple of weeks.
My biggest questions right now, besides how to make the time go faster, are what kind of seed starter to use — peat pellets or pots with soil? — and whether to buy a grow light. I read something about seedlings needing 14 hours of light, which they won’t get in my basement office, so I think I still have a bit of research to do.
That should kill an hour or two in the zillion hours between now and April when I can get outside and start gardening.