What went well this year

Last week I riffed on my frustrations and failures from this past gardening season and it reminded me, yet again, how frickin hard it is to grow a damn flower. I think my pass/fail rate is at about 50% and shows no signs of improving.
But enough of the negativity …
Upon further inspection/reflection, there were also a number of successes this past year. Since I am a “glass mostly/kinda empty” type guy, it can be difficult for me to admit to things that went well. Not to mention, the failures are funnier and wonderful fodder for my self loathing. 
But sometimes, things work out alright. It may have been luck, a green thumb, the use of “fool proof plants” or a combo of all three; whatever it was, let us celebrate a bit today, OK? 
Here are six positives, dating back to early spring of 2012:
1). New plant introductions to my landscape: This is a given each year as we all add to our ever growing plant collection. As I scoured through my incredibly complex plant spreadsheet and sorted it by month purchased and then read the corresponding comments, I found that most of these plants actually thrived in year one. How you like me now? 
Without diving into any level of detail, here are my winners. 
Bulbs first:      
Daffodil ‘Kokopelli’

Daffodil ‘Double Beauty’

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
And the perennials: 
Iris versicolor

Geranium ‘Karmina’

Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Astilbe ‘Amethyst’

Bee Balm ‘Colrain Red’

Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist’

Geranium ‘Espresso’

And one shrub in the mix:

Hydrangea ‘Little Lime’

We’ll see how things progress in 2013, but for now, I’ll bask in the initial glory.

2). Blooming trees in spring: For most of you, this is a given. But for me, this has been a struggle since I moved into our home back in 2004. There wasn’t a tree of any significance on the property, so it has been a slow climb to make it more tree-mendous.

Nothing beats those first tree blooms of spring and this is the first year where I felt like I was invited to the party. Here is what I had going on back in April and May:

Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’:

Hawthorn ‘Winter King’:      

Plum ‘Thundercloud’:

I hope to add more in the near future but unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on …

3). Existing plants that exploded out of nowhere: These are all plants that had been progressing decently the past year or two, but then put on an awesome show like never before. Or a better way of putting it:

“Plants I some how managed not to tinker with too much so they actually had a chance to establish themselves”.      

They include:

Panicum ‘Northwind’

Mountain mint

Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’

Salix ‘Hakuro Nishiki’

Iris siberica ‘Snow Queen’ 

Iris siberica ‘Snow Queen’

Miscanthus ‘purpurascens’

4). The benefits and fun involved with experimental pruning: Back in June, I created my “Prune in June” series (I’m a killer rhymer), which was all about strictly following the pruning for size/delay in bloom laid out so beautifully almost a decade before by Tracy DiSabato Aust.

I picked four different perennials to experiment with and all taught me something unique.

I like the look of a sedum when cut back as it produced more flower heads and delayed bloom later into Fall when color is at a premium:    

By cutting back significantly in early June, I was able to keep my Boltonia upright into September:

I really like the layered look achieved when pinching back the lower blooms on a mass of Joe Pye Weed:

And finally, despite all of my efforts to keep Sneezeweed standing at attention:

I realized it may be an impossible task, even after pruning for size control along the way:

5). Get to know your weeds as well: Back in the summer, I wrote a post on Red Sorrel and through my own research and reader comments, I realized I went about its eradication all wrong:

Remember, weeds are plants too and they all have unique traits that change how you confront them. Hoping to do more of the same in the new year.

6). Got to know my camera much better: My wife gave me a lesson with a local photographer and it completely changed how I look at photography. While I still rely on the “Auto” function a bit too much, at least I have an understanding of shutter speed and aperture.

Trying to capture action shots became a hell of a lot easier:        

What does that have to do with gardening you say? Well it helped me identify the beauty of movement in the garden and hopefully these pics are only the tip of the iceberg:

Camera upgrade in the future? All depends on the Powerball results Wednesday night.

So there you have it.

Me singing my own praises.

Feels a little dirty. I need to screw something up real quick.


6 thoughts on “What went well this year

  1. scottweberpdx

    That’s the great thing about gardening…there is so much to learn…and most of it is best learned by figuring it out for ourselves…failure is the best teacher. DAMN your Miscanthus purpurascens is amazing…mine never gets that fabulous color!

  2. Barb Yingst

    Your last comment, I am with you on that one, waiting to win! hahaha

    It is so easy to focus on what didn’t go well but honestly your garden looks way better than mine from what I’ve seen on here. Yours is much neater and well more blooms. I’ve killed or the weather has killed a lot of my perennials and I don’t have any grasses (needs to change) and my service berry is just a twig compared to yours.

    A photography class sounds like a very good thing.

  3. Patty

    I have to say I think your garden blog is one of my favorites. I write far too much sometimes but hey I’m a wordy girl. I loved the recap of the year…your honestly about being pessimistic…we all get that way and it made me feel so much better about my year which again was a tough one. Loved the pruning recap too. Tracy’s book is such a help…now I just have to use it too. But you encouraged me to keep on and so as they say…”There’s always next year.” Great post!

  4. Pattu Raj

    This is awesome display of flowers, not seen commonly in this part of the world. We have more scented flowers, and roses , in middle class household compounds.

    The varieties and colors are beautiful. Thanks for sharing .

  5. Patty

    I love your garden blog as well. I like your recap of the year – whats good – whats not so good – give me pause in my garden to see what I can do better. I had a Plum Thundercloud in my yard many years ago – it got around 10-15′ in hight before it got some kind of bore that killed it (from which I found out they are suseptable too) Hope yours doesn’t die this slow death. I do miss it – it was as pretty as your pictures show.

  6. Landscape Design By Lee

    You’re definitely doing something right. You have a beautful array of color in your garden and I love the Astilbe ‘Amethyst’ against the purple. More so…you are getting pretty handy with that camera…nice job!!! I always so enjoy your blog.

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