This is my list of New Year resolutions. Yes, I know, September is the ninth month, not the first, but any teacher will tell you September is a new beginning - and after 43 years in the classroom, I will always think that way.
At any rate, this is a good time to plan for next spring.
Successes and failures are still obvious, and ideas garnered from other people's gardens are still remembered. Some weeks from now when the ground is frozen, the skies gray and the bushes appear lifeless, it seems unrealistic to plan for beautiful flower beds and delicious vegetables. Now is the time.
1. I need to reserve a spot in the vegetable garden for a cardoon.
My friend Alice has given me a plant the last two years that has not done well because of crowded conditions. This year's plant had grown leaves 4 feet long, making an 8-foot circle, when I had to pull it because it was taking all the light and rain from the surrounding peppers. Now I know it needs to be tied and bunched around the thick stem in mid-summer. Still to be determined is what to do with it once it is fully grown,
2.Grow more sunflowers.
I planted some outside the kitchen window, and the birds have planted a few around the house in unsuitable places, but there are never enough. The goldfinches are constant visitors and a delight to watch. My Millenium sunflower is 7 feet tall already, but has not bloomed yet.
3.Plant more sweet peas.
Now I have the perfect fence to support them, and they are easy to grow once the tender seedlings make it to the outdoors. There is no lovelier scent in all the world, and I need to plant them successively to have blossoms in vases all summer.
4.Buy a bigger buddleia.
My old butterfly bush died after at least 10 years, and I rushed out to get a new one as soon as I got the dead one finally dug out. I bought the least expensive one, and didn't get around to reading the label until it was duly settled in the hole. Then I found it reaches a height of 4 feet. Which it did. It is a perfectly nice buddleia, but so small it is hidden by the gooseneck loosestrife, monarda, plume poppies and other flowers that make up my small butterfly garden. So it needs a big sister.
5.Keep looking for the perfect annual vine to cover the arbor across from the back door.
This year's experiment is very ugly. I planted a gourd on one side and hyacinth bean vine on the other, with dreams of golden fruits hanging down with purple flowers between them. The actuality is huge, rough gourd leaves hiding everything, including the hyacinth vine.
6.When all those bunches of strong, strappy leaves appear in the spring, I will cut them back.
I put up with them every year, knowing the pink lilies will appear in late summer on bare 2-foot stems. Apparently my Naked Ladies, as they are called around here, are too shy to stand up and be counted. My neighbor across the street had dozens of the attractive flowers, while I had one lonely lady on the side border, and a bashful cluster under the Miss Kim lilac, after living with that ugly foliage for weeks.
So there it is for the New Year. And now that I have written my ideas down, maybe I will actually accomplish them. One or two of them, anyway.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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