Gardener finds fresh optimism with new year

It’s time again to get out the new calendar, to remember to write 2014 on checks and to list a few resolutions for the New Year. If I do this publicly, I am more likely to see it happen.

First decision is that I will keep working on the shade garden in the front of the house. Three lighted deer spent the Christmas season under the cherry tree, and now the blank, drab space is crying for some green with accents of color.

Last summer was a good start, with plenty of lily of the valley, ajuga and chameleon plants providing the green background, and brilliant color patches of hot pink begonias and my favorite impatiens creating spots of color. I hope I can find the impatiens variety again; they were called Violet Star and were bright purple centered with white stars and stood out so well in the dark area under the tree.

My second resolution is to deal with the lemon balm that is threatening to take over the whole neighborhood. After foolishly planting one little specimen a few years ago, I have been fighting a losing battle to get rid of it. I love its scent and enjoy a few leaves in my lemonade, but enough is enough.

I am not going to surrender but re-channel. I plan to clip those ungainly, gawky plants into a little hedge all the way across the back of the vegetable garden and snip the rest of it at ground level. Danny will keep trailers mowed down with the rest of the grass.

Another carry-over will be the sunflowers. I love to see them growing down the side of the house, where not many people see them except for me and my neighbor (and, of course, the birds). A host of sparrows spend their days flitting from one plant to another and enjoying the seeds.

I plan to plant a few packets of the assorted helianthus and just enjoy whatever comes up. The Maximilian perennial sunflower blooms there by mid-August and grows taller and wider every year, so it is a sea of yellow in a rather insignificant garden spot.

Then, there is the matter of the green beans.

I won’t stop planting them. In fact, my seeds are ready, but I am going to move their site. The trellis Larry and Josh made for me a few years ago needs to shift to the south side of the vegetable garden and will go along side the lemon balm hedge.

I am not growing bush beans next summer. The pole beans are so prolific, I get as many as I can use, plus they are so easy and trouble-free to grow. If I go to England again in September, I will have to plant earlier so the harvest is ready before I leave. The southern exposure should hurry things a little. Then, I can grow kale and Swiss chard under the vines in a late sowing that will last well into the first frosts.

I persevered with the broccoli last summer and finally got a good crop. I still have a letter Neva wrote to me a while back, giving me some growing tips that were successful.

Then, there are blueberries. My two bushes in a large container with amended soil produced a large crop, but one morning when I went out with a bowl, and pie on my mind, I found the birds had beaten me to it. Well, maybe not for pie, but you get the picture.

I am going to move the container to a more visible spot in the herb bed and invest in some netting. This means the herb bed will be smaller, and that is probably a good thing. I get carried away by the sight and scent of so many plants in the spring that I will never actually use, so I will try to stick with rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage, chives mint and bay.

The lavender will be transplanted around the corner beside the climbing roses, and they will look beautiful together.

So, there it is: A plan in my head to dream about during these cold weeks and something ready for action when spring arrives.

Happy New Year!

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