Flora Dreams and Plans for Spring
by Kimberley Thompson, Tastemaker in Residence
Thirty five Januarys and thirty five Februarys of my life have been spent in devoted contemplation; at first serenely, then hopefully and finally manically. My friends and family humor me; not mentioning the "G" word, and then they just plain avoid me. The story begins the same each year; I thoughtfully and studiously review the previous year. What worked? What didn't? Was it the weather? Location? Varmints? Zones? My practice of survival of the fittest?
Yup. It is GARDEN PLANNING time once more. When flora dreams are created. When the ever blue sky is the limit; with cooperative weather of course! When I can SEE my gardens as the envy of the neighborhood. When I wear my glasses with the rose colored lens; again!
So come the frozen, dreary days of January and February; of which were in abundance this year, I snug myself in the blue winged back chair by the window. At table side is a steamy cup of Earl Grey, red and black pens, a dozen sheets of white paper waiting for pencil plotting, my "cheaters," and an assortment of seed catalogues. I have several favorites: Winter Greenhouse from Winter, WI, Farmer Seed and Nursery from Faribault, MN, Jung Seeds & plants from Randolph, WI and Seeds Savers from Decorah, IA. Several others are in the peruse pile, others just plain fantasy pile.
I visual each bed. What needed the tough decision? What should be welcomed into my little plant community? What worked? And more importantly, would did not work? And was it actually my fault?
The catalogues become more and more shopworn; turned down corners and margin notes all but obliterate the copy. I get caught in a green fever for growing things. I ignore phrases like "vigorous spreader," "rapid growth," and the biggest warning flag of all, "self seeder!"
I become the "Queen of Tangents." Straying in all directions. No, I do not need to grow 4 varieties of heirlooms carrots; even if I liked carrots! Nor do I have the room! No, I do not need to plant a vigorous showy curtain of castor beans on a trellis. One, I do not have a trellis. Two, I have no need to grow something that poisonous, Three, see number 2.
Sunflowers for their hardy cheerfulness.
Trellised peas for their early spring welcome.
Grilling peppers for the piquant bite every steak needs.
Ornamental corn for pots with zinnias.
Gaillardia Mesa Peach drought hardy "blanket flower." Drought hardy says enough!
I decide to leave the one garden as a butterfly garden: The common milkweed plants gradually took it over during my last 2 years of benign neglect. (If truth be necessary; the last 4 years of flat out ignoring!) False blue indigo, blanket flowers, cleomes, cranesbills and lupines all nestle together like choices at a salad bar. Which, I guess, in a way they are for the butterflies, caterpillars and birds.
Garden dreaming sustains my spring hungry soul. Garden reality is like life: grand successes, near misses, and out right disasters. And like life, there is always one small corner that holds a miracle!