Shady front garden deserves a resolution

Well, it is that time again. Time to learn to write 2013 on checks, to start the new and indispensable new wall calendar, and time to make a few New Year resolutions.

I tried to find last year’s list, but could only come up with a few notes scribbled in my journal: “blue bottle tree, sunflower fence and courthouse brick patch.”

Even if it was not a very ambitious list, at least I accomplished what I had set out to do.

I turned one of the rather scrawny lilacs by the garage in to a bottle tree with about 20 blue bottles on the tips of the branches, and that was a great success. In fact, some friends still bring me their bottles, ensuring the 2013 tree will be bigger and better.

My neighbor, Gene, gave me some fencing for the prairie sunflower that grows taller and wider each year, and that worked well along the side of the house, keeping those golden flowers visible around the kitchen window all through the fall.

And the bricks I scavenged from the former courthouse are set around the shrubs in the front of the vegetable garden, and duly labeled on the back of one brick so many years from now, someone may see where they came from.

Now for a new list.

The most urgent resolution is to really do something attractive with the shady front garden.

I have hostas well established there under the tree and have let the lilies of the valley and chameleon plant proliferate, but color is needed. I plan to grow plenty of impatiens from seed again, but in brighter colors this time.

I am also going to start assorted coleus. Clashing colors will be fine in that dark spot. Around the borders where there is some morning sun, there are a few coreopsis and monkshood, along with lambs ear, that seem to survive.

I planted a number of daffodils there to get things started and will try to keep it looking better than the dreary area that bothered me last year.

Then there is the matter of the vegetable garden.

I need to concentrate on what I want the end product to be instead of constantly trying something new. The best harvest for me is tomatoes, of course, corn, green beans, peppers and a few cabbages.

They are the vegetables we eat all summer long, and I try to freeze enough beans to last until Christmas.

I have garlic growing well, and there are onions coming up again, and then there are the raspberries. That may be the biggest change of all if I decide to dig them out.

Really, they are a nuisance to keep weeded and do not produce enough fruit to be worthwhile. The children like them, and so do the birds, but that needs some more thought.

I am not going to fuss with cucumbers, Swiss chard, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and the like.

Watering is a problem with a long hose needed that has to be dragged around, and as I move through my 80s, I have to find ways around the heavy digging and lifting.

Of course, those who know me and need to call me often know I have trouble with my phone. Not using it, but finding it.

My granddaughter tells me wrist straps are available for a phone, and I am going to try one with the hope I don’t have to drive clear across town to her house, to ask her to call me so I can locate the darn thing. Someone should invent a beeper.

And that is probably enough. Happy new year!

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at