Shut Up And Dig

At the closing of the year

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I always leave this stuff up as long as possible.

In our region, the end of the year corresponds rather neatly with the end of the gardening season. Yesterday (Boxing Day), I was texting with a friend who was taking advantage of the freakishly balmy temps to finally getting some bulbs planted I had given him. He wanted to know how deep. It’s a bit risky to plan bulbs this late, as they won’t have much time to get established, but better to do it than waste them.

Aside from intermittent bulbing, though, there is little left to do gardening-wise. Now the back garden becomes a wildlife sanctuary (of sorts), with a suet feeder and a seed feeder set up by the pond. The seed feeder is squirrel-proof; if a squirrel jumps on it, the outer guard comes down, blocking him (or her) from the seeds; it seems to work pretty well. The suet is also somewhat enclosed; only smaller birds can get to it. There are also plenty of pickings on the ground. Do I wish we had more interesting birds? Yes. But I’m happy with the chickadees and cardinals that show up—along with a whole bunch of nondescript house sparrows/finches.

As I watch the birds in their feeding frenzy, I can consider what to do in the spring.

Should I try growing food again? No. The results aren’t worth the space they take up. We’ll rely on the CSA this summer.

Some of the new hardscaping, with plantings meant for a much higher wall.

Is there more hardscaping to install? God, I hope not! We put in two sets of stone stairs and two new enclosures in the back and the easeway work in the front is holding up. Now is the time to figure out the replanting that these newly configured spaces may require.

The vines to the left of the garage are kept barely within control.

Will I regret my recommitment to hydrangeas? I put in four new ones over the past two seasons—two paniculatas, one macrophylla, and a quercifolia. It’s the blooming that’s the thing; if they don’t bloom profusely, I won’t be happy.

Should I pull down the back vines and start over? Ugh. But the campsis is getting so crazy and a recent clematis virginiana is almost as bad. They can be cut back. I would hate giving up all that established vertical growth.

Will the shade perennials in the front ever fill in or do I have to change my mind about a creeping ground cover? Maybe some ajuga here and there.

These and many other questions will be occupying me. Not sure of the answers, but I do know I’ll be wheeling a lot of plants out of garden centers come spring—just like always!

(I’ll get some pix of the feeders in here later.)

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on December 27, 2016 at 10:37 am, in the category Real Gardens, Shut Up and Dig.


  1. Perfect example of how continual change is in our gardens. Wouldn’t have it any other way, as long as I’m holding up. THe plotting and scheming is the BEST.

  2. That mural! It’s fantastic. Who did it? I’m wracking my brain trying to think of a suitable spot in my small garden for a mural. Perhaps an expansive vineyard view on the fence behind the grape arbor . . .

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