On Friday I talked about how I’ve worked to avoid imperfection in the garden by practicing a form of “weed triage.” Today I’ll talk about how I’ve tried to simplify my gardening life a bit.
I used to plant a lot more containers. I would plant what I called my “mixed container border” and it was 25 to 30 feet of containers with mixed plantings. It was a lot of fun and very creative and I got to change out the plantings every year.
But I no longer consider it very sustainable. Containers demand a lot of water and I won’t use those water absorbing gels or anything like it. And it seemed crazy to be composting all those annuals and tropicals every year–even though I’d over-winter as many as I could. My compromise is to do fewer containers and group them to try to conserve water and leave it at that. I also try to use more perennials in the containers and just to add a few annuals each year.
Ditto on the vegetables. No matter what I plant, some critter comes through and ravages. Last year it was deer. This year I was all set with my deer avoidance system so the rabbits came through. Sigh. So there are still fewer veggies. Fortunately, there are great farmer’s markets all over.
And finally, I plant perennials and shrubs with interest and low maintenance which is a lot harder than it seems. What I aim for is longer bloom time, interesting foliage while it’s not in bloom and something in bloom from May to October. I’ve pretty much achieved it with the shrubs–hydrangeas, rose of sharon, elderberry, butterfly bush–things like that.
The perennials I look for are those with a longer bloom time–and they also happen to be natives, which are great. Cone flowers and black eyed susans work well for me, don’t mind if I never water, feed goldfinches and self sow so that there are more of them every year. They knit together the shrubs I’ve mentioned above into a fairly natural looking planting.
All I need to do to that garden is go in once in the spring and prune back the dead wood and occasionally keep it weeded around the edges–because once it gets growing, there are no other bare spots to weeds. That’s the goal I aim for in all my gardens. I can’t say I’m there yet–but I’m trying not to stress about it.
Once the gardens are “done,” what will I do?