Gardening in the New Year: Preparation

This fall, after an unseasonably early freeze, I’d decided to spend the winter addressing some issues in the two small flower beds behind my house. Thanks to good wind, diligent squirrels, tree runners, and the questionable choices of the house’s previous owner, I’d spent several years prior battling elm, hackberry, and oak seedlings coming up too near the foundation as well as a trumpet creeper that was doing more sprinting than creeping.

image of a cat in a garden
the cat checks out my progress in the raised flower bed

So, a couple days ago, I grabbed my shovel and started on a hackberry tree. Digging around the roots, I kept hitting hard objects, mostly clumps of concrete and broken bricks, along with a fair bit of gravel. I’ve never had much luck growing anything in these beds, and perhaps I now know why. Last spring and summer, my container annuals thrived, while most of the seeds started in beds failed to do so.  Granted, the wildlife around here probably contributed to the problem too, but I won’t do anything to actively disturb them.

The rain on Wednesday hastened my progress, and on Thursday as I dug around oak and elm saplings, I discovered more and more of the filler material between the bedding soil and the clay soil found around these parts.

Which, of course, changed my thoughts on what I’ll be doing in the new year in the garden.

For years, I’ve planned a sort of cutting garden, mostly poppies and corn flowers in the early spring, followed by zinnia, marigold, daisies, and then cosmos later on.  I had good luck with marigolds in containers this year, as well as the convolvulus pictured on the home page of my website.

I’ve puttered around in gardens enough over the years to know that I can’t really set goals in the way that I might for other pursuits.  Too little is under my control.  So I’ll say this: I’ll leave the goals for my writing.  In the meantime, I’ll put clearing out the filler in the flower beds on my to do list for winter.  And if I can get just a few poppies or corn flowers to thrive this spring, then all this upheaval will have been worth it.