Rhyme and Reason
Welcome to Rhyme and Reason, my blog on gardening. The goal of this blog is to relate the art of poetry with practical gardening advice, combining art and science if you will. Anyway here goes, I hope you find it interesting and informative.
"Now is the winter of our discontent" Richard the Third, Act 1, Scene 1, Line 1 William Shakespeare
For gardeners winter can be a season of discontent. Often we are stuck inside because the weather is too cold or too wet or both. Gardeners want to be outside digging in the dirt on a mild March day. Gardening, for most, is a wishful dream, at least for the next six weeks or so. Still, there are gardening activities that can keep up your spirits. Here are few suggestion to chase away the winter blahs.
Winter is a wonderful time to make some visits. Start by visiting your own garden (on a relatively nice day), pen and paper in hand. Winter is a good time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your landscape. Write down practical goals to achieve once the weather warms. Is there an area that needs a better landscape plan? What type of makeover, new shrubs or perennials (what size, what bloom time, what color). If your are really ambitious, take a piece of graph paper and make a scale drawing of your house and landscape (include doors, windows, pavements decks, driveways, flowerbeds, compass directions and trees). Even a rough landscape drawing is great to have when visiting your local gardening center and looking for advice on plants to incorporate into your landscape or for suggestions on how to deal with a problem area.
Your favorite local independent nursery is another visit worth making. They are open and they have more time to discuss your landscape needs now. Come March and April, the crush of business makes it hard for them to spend any quality time with you. Also, they know what plants will be available. It can be frustrating to decide you've discovered a great plant in a garden book or magazine only to learn that no one locally carries it.
Next, visit your local botanical garden. (In Memphis visit the Dixon and the Memphis Botanical Garden.) Bring along pen and paper and note what's interesting in their winter landscape. Adding interest to winter can include trees with exfoliating bark (some crape myrtles, for example) or with colorful bark (such as Sango Kaku, Coral Bark Japanese Maple.) Consider form when looking at the winter garden; Harry Lauder's walking stick and weeping Japanese Maples can add interest even without foliage. The berries of deciduous Hollies are another useful addition to the winter landscape.
Another visit worth making is to your local public library and, I recommend, checking out two books on gardening. If you're like me two books are better that five because with two books I will spend more time with each one rather that skimming and forgetting a few random ideas from five books. Visiting the library again and checking out another two is perfectly acceptable- they won't mind a bit.
Annuals such as Pansies, Violas, Panolas (panolas are a hybrid mix of pansies and violas) and ornamental cabbages are another way to add winter interest. Take a trip around and look at the entrance to subdivisions that have an appealing mix of annuals. When you find one that you like, get out and take some pictures. Next fall, use your pictures as a guide to create a scaled down version for your landscape.
Finally, as Percy Byshhe Shelley wrote in Ode to the West Wind: If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind" . Spring is something all gardeners can't wait to arrive!
Poem of the Month Suggestion
Wind and Window Flower by Robert Frost