Wow! Another year has passed, and there’s still too many plants I haven’t tried growing. There are too many plants that should be removed to make room for the untried, but it’s difficult getting rid of something that does perform, if only half-heartedly, but ultimately isn’t doing that much harm. (Insert your own political statement here based on that last sentence!)
There’s still too little land to plant everything and not enough time to take care of all of it to my standards.
Ultimately, the New Year’s resolutions are to plant more, plant less, take care of it better, and just go with Nature’s flow. The competing resolutions probably make it difficult to achieve success.
Years ago, when I first moved in, I wanted to tame my yard, which wasn’t difficult since there were only three trees and a yew hedge. That was it, plus the lawn.
One of the trees was a large oak which shaded the garage and part of the backyard, but not the house. It up and died one winter, which caused me to shed a tear or two, but then made me realize I had a large space to plant some smaller trees, and of course some understory shrubs, ferns, bulbs, hostas, etc.
The other trees were walnuts that were leaning precariously toward my neighbor’s house. The oak died and the walnuts were removed for safety sake.
Unfortunately, with perfect 20-20 hindsight, I replaced the walnuts with a clump river birch, which has fared well, though all the limbs it drops every day of the year is a little annoying. It’s one of two mistakes over 20 years, which isn’t too bad.
The other mistake was accepting a groundcover from a friend who said “I think this will fill in nicely in your yard.” It was Houttuynia or chameleon plant, and something to be avoided unless you can contain it with walls of concrete three feet deep in the ground. I’m still pulling the plants out every month. Don’t be fooled by its look of innocence.
It took 20 years to finally remove the yew hedge. That was after four severe prunings to keep it short and manageable. But ultimately, it was taking up too much room, and since there is no law you must have a yew hedge in the front of your house, contrary to what it appears in most landscapes, it was removed with a shovel and backhoe.
Now, my trees number into the twenties if you count all the immature Japanese maples. The shrubs number about twice that, and the rest of the plants about 10 times that amount. Though, some of them are dwarf plants, which don’t take up much space and grow under the larger ones.
All this is essentially to make a couple of points.
A true gardener is never happy. They’ll keep tinkering and trying new plants, getting rid of the older ones. Plants will be moved here and there. Over the years, I’ve used the term “exterior decorating.”
Two, a landscape is never finished. Plants grow too tall, take over, or die. Or they sit there like lumps and never do anything.
Your expectations change, your love for a specific plant can diminish. Success breeds confidence, so you try those plants you don’t think you should or could grow. And when they do, you leap around in your mind like a giddy little kid.
There is always next year. And this is last year’s next year. Start planning.