Bits of tinsel have settled into and mixed with the dust bunnies in the corners and behind open doors. The streamers, noisemakers and glittery hats have been put away. The black eyed peas, pork and sauerkraut have been eaten to insure good luck will be had for the rest of 2011. Enough cleaning has been done so that the connections of brain waves to typing fingers can flash and snap appropriately, clearing the pathways of the gummy gunk that slows down the flow of ideas and inspiration.
A fresh start in the way the garden is perceived, tended and loved is the goal for the beginning of a new year. Even though there are chores yet undone, cutting and mulching, pruning and graveling, this is the time of overview. It is time to think about what worked, what didn’t and where to go from here. How to proceed? Let us make some criteria for the new way of garden thinking that is desired.
For me, less maintenance is number one. How can the optimum beauty be achieved with the least work to keep it so has been the object of study for several years now. Filling the need, make that addiction of collecting new plants must be blended into the overall design philosophy. If there are extraordinary tasks that are necessary to keep any new plant healthy after the initial settling in period, if it is really not meant to be grown in these conditions, it must be deleted from the wish list. Being on sale, or even offered for free is no excuse to allow it within the gates.
Low maintenance may be number one, but wildlife friendly is the co-captain of this design ship, equal in importance in the list of criteria for garden additions. There must be absolutely NO SPRAYING of poisons in the Fairegardens. Our stance has stiffened on this over the years to the point that a pest infested plant will simply be removed rather than treated. In fact, we plant many larval food plants just so they will be eaten in order to encourage the butterflies that result from the holey leaves. Berries, seed heads and habitat will be considered for our feathered, winged and crawling friends.
Natives are to be encouraged and protected from aggressive exotics. Native plants are automatically programmed to grow here with less maintenance. They survive and even thrive with our weather conditions, as weird as they may be in some years. The pollinators adore them, it is part of Nature’s grand design. Many will self sow, adding serendipity of placement along with free plants.
So now the criteria have been set. From whence is the inspiration to come? Travels, even as mundane as a trip to the grocery might spark a brilliant idea when a certain combination of foliage in the yard of neighbors or wildflowers along the roadside is spied and starts the bells and whistles ringing inside our minds. The key is to keep that mind wide open to all possibilities, don’t be boxed in by convention of what is or is not acceptable, pretty or doable.
Looking at the photos taken over the years of gardens, vacations, our own private space can trigger thoughts of where do we go from here. Books, magazines, and of course blog posts add to the flames as the bonfire of plans for your gardens ignites. The lightning bolts shoot ideas from every direction. Be sure and write them down as soon as you can, while they are still white hot from the core of creativity. Onward!