I recently took a little time to review the past growing season while it was still fresh in my mind. I organized plant labels, seed packets, and notes; looked through photographs; and read entries in my garden journal.
In January and February, I grew several varieties of amaryllis. They provided magnificent blooms for this winter weary gardener.
Birds entertained me on winter days as they sheltered in evergreens, darted back and forth from branches to feeders, and drank from and bathed in the pond.
Growth in the garden started in early spring as foliage of bulbs pushed through the soil. Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), crocus, squill (Scilla siberica), and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae) were quickly followed by tulips and daffodils. Allium performed the finale.
The pots I planted with bulbs last fall were a big success. So much so, I planted twice as many pots of bulbs in November for next spring.
I had almost forgotten about the ducks that called our pond home for a while in spring. I had hoped they would raise their ducklings in our yard, but they moved out before laying their eggs. Read more about them here.
Spring-blooming perennials including hellebores, Iris cristata, columbines (Aquilegia spp.), pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris), lungwort (Pulmonaria saccharata) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) colored the landscape in every color in the rainbow.
Cool season vegetables were planted in raised beds, earth boxes and other containers. Several varieties of lettuce, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, and kohlrabi were planted by seed or transplants. My pot with strawberries planted around the perimeter and peas growing up an obelisk in the middle produced juicy berries all summer. The peas were devoured straight from their pods – yum!
Flowering trees and shrubs were hit and miss last spring. The forsythia barely bloomed and the tender flower buds on the magnolia were hit by frost just as they were beginning to open. Maybe next year, right? Thankfully, crabapples, serviceberries, redbuds, lilacs and viburnums picked up the slack.
In July, I renovated a section of one of the shady borders. One variety of coral bells (Heuchera ‘Grape Expectations’) did not establish like the other plants. I am anxious to see how they make it through their first winter.
Sunny perennial borders bloomed in abundance this summer. Rainfall fell in reasonable amounts and in a timely fashion. Supplemental watering was not necessary.
My window boxes and containers were fabulous this year. I was especially happy with an underused annual that I will be sure to plant again next year – Browallia. It bloomed and bloomed and bloomed without deadheading.
All the warm season vegetables were planted in containers on decks outside our family room and master bedroom. I planted dwarf tomatoes for the first time and was very impressed. They produced tomatoes continuously on compact plants. Enough peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, onions, Swiss chard, cabbage and kale were harvested to keep my family well fed.
One crop did not fare as well. I tried to grow sweet corn in a container. The variety was called ‘On Deck’ and was touted to produce two to three ears per stalk in pots. The stalks grew vigorously but did not produce a single ear of corn. I wonder if there were sufficient stalks to distribute enough pollen. Oh well, at least I had cornstalks to decorate in the fall.
My hydrangea addiction grew as more beautiful varieties were introduced to the market. None of the hydrangeas in my landscape disappointed. I plan to add even more types in 2017.
Plenty of friends kept me company in the garden this summer.
Throughout the summer and into early fall, I redesigned and replanted one of the long sunny borders. I added a thin layer of shredded leaves in the fall to help plants through their first winter. Mother Nature covered them with a thick blanket of snow before the weather turned really cold, so they should be safely sleeping.
We had the most wonderful weather in fall that allowed me to continue working in the landscape well into November. The gardens were cleaned and weeded more than ever before winter, and the fall color of trees, shrubs and perennials was brilliant.
We enjoyed a fall crop of kohlrabis, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes and several varieties of lettuce. I continued to pick strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Alyssum was still blooming in a container on November 15!
On December 4, we received the first significant snowfall. It was truly significant – a little over 7 inches at our house – and officially ended the gardening season.
It was fun looking back on the 2016 season. For the most part, fruit and vegetables were tasty and plentiful, flowers bloomed beautifully, and time spent in the garden was joyful. Take some time to reflect on your 2016 garden experiences and get ready to garden with me in 2017.