Ornamental and edible gardening adventures.

Getting ready for the 12th growing season

Beneath the snow lies the garden's potential

After clearing the snow from our driveway again, I paused to look at the garden. The standing stems of the perennial plants are a reminder of the plants that were in bloom there a few short months ago. In the spot closest to the driveway, I did cut back some of the perennials to make it easier to plant more spring-blooming bulbs. But the furthest part of the garden remains untouched.

To people passing by, it looks like a collection of snow-covered trees, shrubs and dead plants. But the snow helps me visualize how the area will look this coming season, and all the potential that lays beneath the surface.

It will start soon, with snowdrops and witch hazel and winter aconite. March will bring the first of the daffodils. 

As the plants fill in and we settle into May, the perennials which bloom later in the season will be growing rapidly between the spring starlets — the short-lived peonies, poppies and irises — that I need to have in the garden even though their beauty is fleeting. 

Long days will fly by, basking in the sunlight, until we enter July, when the front border erupts in the various colors from the daylilies, coneflowers and shasta daisies.

During the height of the summer heat, the plants will continue to bloom, with annuals such as zinnias supporting the show. Tucked in between the ornamental plants are edibles, such as peppers and beans.

Come September and October, the last hurrah of floral color arrives with the asters, which provide food for the migrating monarch butterflies and several species of bees.

And then it will wind down again, and I'll be left with a garden with reminders of the life that lives below the surface: the seed heads from coneflowers, the bare stems of hydrangeas and the empty bean trellis. 

This year I want to be more deliberate about photographing the same spot of the garden so I can share a more elaborate "look back" next year. 

What lies beneath the surface of your garden's soil?


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