Monday, February 20, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. I rediscovered my original plan for the sun bed (left) and had to giggle at my ignorance and optimism. I was going to plant a butterfly bush in the center, and suround it with winter-sown columbine, delphinium, butterfly weed, chinese lantern plant, lupine, and oriental poppy. The gladiolas were already in the bed and I planned on buying the elfin thyme. Then reality set in.

First of all, I didn't have the germination success I expected. The poppies, delphinium, and chinese lantern didn't germinate at all. (I think they were all Burpee seeds.) I had a handful of butterfly weed and oodles of columbine seedlings. My lupine seeds were also a success, but I managed to later kill the seedlings.

I am glad now that the chinese lantern did not germinate. Unbeknowst to me at the time, chinese lantern (physalis) quickly becomes a noxious weed in the flowerbed and is notoriously difficult to get rid of. I am trying the seeds again this year (different brand), but the plant will go in a pot.

Secondly, even if all my seeds had given me sprightly seedlings, I had no idea that perennials didn't bloom their first year. I had the ephiphany in mid-spring and despaired of a flowerless garden. Thankfully, Patrick came to my rescue with a car-load of divided perennials, so I didn't have to live with a sparse foliage garden last year.

My initial drawing had no scale, so I really didn't know just how many plants I would need for the enormous drifts I had planned. As you can see from the "actual" layout, there is room for many plants and varieties. (The bed is 20' long and 8' deep.) I would have abolutely needed every single winter-sown seed to germinate to carry on with my original plan. (And imagine how terrible that drift of poppies would have looked in July!)

Finally, I had no idea that I would become such a plant collector. I was so put off by the cost of the plants required for my original cottage garden border, that I viewed live plants as prohibitively expensive. Little did I know that my generous friends would push free plants on me and that I would find such glorious sales all summer long!

My sun bed ended up being more plopped than planned. It's overcrowded. I had to move plants out a few times last summer and will continue to do so again this year. (I don't have a photo of the end of the season, but the plants had filled out so much that there wasn't a bit of mulch visible by September.)

Last fall, I created a new bed along the fenceline and to the right of the front walk. I will map it on paper soon and creating a planting plan. I only hope that I have better success with winter sowing this year because most of my plan will be dependent on the seedlings I raise myself. I keep telling myself that I will buy fewer plants and more hardscape materials this year. Will I never learn? Here's laughing at me, kid.

8 Comments:

Blogger IBOY said...

I used to always be amazed when I'd read a gardening article, and the author came across as somewhat smug... then I realized these were wealthy people who had gardeners. Can there be any hobby more humbling than gardening?
Don

8:28 AM  
Blogger Sourire11 said...

I found your blog through a google search for gardening blogs in Ohio - I just moved into my first house and plan on having my first garden this summer. I wanted to let you know I was reading and say thanks for sharing all of your experiences!

Jeanne

8:55 AM  
Blogger Takoma Gardener said...

Ah, the education of a gardener is quite an interesting tale. I'll add that in my usual impatience, one year I bought all the perennial seeds I coudl find that were advertised as blooming the first year. Well, it worked. And the reason they all bloom the first year is that they're ultimately such scrawny, pathetic plants, they don't need a second year to develop. Now I understand, but probably wouldn't have from reading it somewhere.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Ugh, you've got me really embarrassed about my planning. I just start throwing things in the ground and move things as I realize what a ridiculous plotting it was.

5:52 PM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

Um, are you aware how large butterfly bushes and wigelias get? 6' tall and up to 7' wide! I'm no good at sticking to the plans I draw up for my gardens. And even when I do, the result is never what I imagined it would be.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

Oldroses, no worries, the Weigela is a dwarf (Minuet) and is already at it's mature height and spread. I chop the butterfly bush to the ground each spring, so it shouldn't become too big.

11:04 AM  
Blogger kitschywoman said...

If you need any more butterfly bushes, just let me know. I'm taking out two this year (white ones). They're about 3-4 years old, and they get about 4' high by 4' wide each year. (I follow the old custom of chopping them back to knee height every spring.) I'll also be taking out some hostas and I have plenty more that are big enough to be split out, if you want any. Oh, and iris. Want any iris? Ornamental grass? Pussywillows? LOL! I sound like a garden pimp. I'm in SW F-town, right near you. My garden is undergoing a major revamp this year. (To be honest, it undergoes a major revamp every year.) Obsessive-compulsive gardeners R us.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Garden Obsession said...

I love this post! I bond more with gardeners over mutual follies than successes. Though honestly, I've given up putting plans on paper. That did not serve me well at all and most everything ended up moving because it grew too fast, grew too slow, didn't like it's location, etc etc etc. Now I'm more like Sylvana where I just stick it in the spot that seems best at the time and hope for success. And if I don't get it, I move it or give it away if no other good options are apparently.

Kitchy, I want to live by you! Free iris? Heck yeah!

11:48 AM  

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