Tag Archives: New York Botanical Garden

Garden resolutions for 2012

We all know we never fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. NEVER. Just take a look at how I failed miserably  with my 2011 gardening resolutions.

I bet if you did your research, you would find that more lettuce is eaten the first week of January than any other week in the year. We convince ourselves THIS will be the year we will stick to our lofty goals. Sure you will.

After saying all that, I cannot resist setting my own gardening “goals” (sounds more attainable than “resolutions”) for the new year. It kick starts my enthusiasm to start planning as we enter the dead of winter. A chance to dream of spring and emerging bulbs.

So without further ado, I give you my five step gardening plan for 2012:

1. Expand, expand, expand – As I’ve mentioned previously, I live on a large lot (2+ acres) that was a blank canvas when we moved in back in 2004. It’s been a slow process to expand the garden out into the yard. I blame it on lack of time, the fear of deer and poorly draining soil. As a result, I have way too much lawn to maintain:              

Besides the desire to cut down on the lawn maintenance time, I really want to lure visitors (kind of sounds creepy) further out into the yard. I want to add more paths and “destinations” that will encourage you to want to explore more.

This is the view out of the back of my home and for years I’ve planned on creating a woodland garden underneath the only mature tree on my property. I’m thinking benches and deer resistant shrubs and grasses:    

So it is time to dedicate myself to moving beyond the garden beds that surround the house:

2. Foliage, foliage, foliage – The reality of my garden situation is that I have clay soil that does not drain well and my yard is infested with deer and rabbits. That does not lend itself to a garden full of flowers. The key is to focus on foliage with contrasting colors, shape and textures. I can strategically utilize flowers where possible (damn you spring plant catalogs and your beautiful flowers), but the focus and theme will be on the foliage:      

3. Take advantage of raised beds – This is a simple one. Raised beds eliminate the poor drainage issue and allow me to grow herbs and vegetables I normally could not. Like an idiot, I completely ignored an existing raised bed I’ve had for years and it looked like this most of the year:

No more. I’m imagining rosemary, thyme, cilantro, chives, tomatoes, etc. I mean seriously, my wife is a world class cook and I’m not providing her with the necessary fresh ingredients.

4. Give up on the plants I know will not thrive – It is all about survival of the fittest and if you can’t keep up, you’re gone. So …

Good bye Phlox paniculata:

Good bye Weeping Cherry Tree:

Good bye daylillies:

And good bye Geranium ‘Brookside’:

5. Visit more gardens and get my ass inspired – For reasons unknown, I have not taken advantage of all of the public gardens at my disposal and that is a friggin shame. I’m missing out on so much and that needs to change. This past summer, I finally made my way to the New York Botanical Garden and what an experience it was. I felt energized by all of the displays and was immediately inspired to experiment:  

So there you go, my 2012 gardening resolutions are out there and now the pressure is on to actually see that I meet these objectives.

Happy new year to you all and we’ll do this again in 2012!

John

A visit to the New York Botanical Garden

Where the hell do I begin?

When I recently ended my short visit to the New York Botanical Garden, I felt like an infant who freaks out after being overstimulated. I had to crawl into the fetal position, take some deep breaths in order to recover. It was like Disney World for the plant lover. GOOD FRIGGIN TIMES!

I won’t bore you with a lot of words since you can read up on all there is to know on the NYBG web site. The truth is, I’ll never be able to truly convey the feeling I had while there. NYBG is located in the Bronx, NY and to call it an oasis in a big urban city is an understatement. I love the excitement of driving in NYC (not joking) but when you enter the grounds it’s like a 1,000 angels playing the harp just for you. You no longer comprehend that you are in a city; it is a world unto it’s own.

We took the 1/2 hour trolley ride around the grounds and learned all about the history of the garden dating back to the 1800’s. There were a few stops along the way, including The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden where many of the blooms were past their prime but you can still appreciate the beauty, the scent and effort involved with this slice of heaven:

For someone who has struggled to grow roses successfully my whole life, it was awe inspiring. I will be back next year during prime bloom time and hopefully will pass out from the sight.
I have voiced my frustration with daylilies in a prior post, and have considered removing them completely from my gardens … until I came face to face with the Daylily Walk:      

I know very little about Waterlillies but you don’t need to be all that educated to appreciate how stunning they are, especially on a beautiful, sunny day like we had:

But truth be told, nothing got me more fired up than the Perennial Garden. I recently saw the gardens featured on an old episode of Victory Garden so I already knew the background and what went into the choice of plants here. With the conservatory in the background, it is a stunning locale. As I walked the grounds, the term “lush” kept screaming in my head and you can see why:  

A quick stop at the Herb Garden was all we had time for but what a site scent it was. I have virtually no sense of smell (long story) but even I could smell the intoxicating scent of curry in the air (still not sure exactly what it was as we were in a rush at that point):      

My wife and I have a pact to visit the NYBG at least three times a year going forward as we missed out on:

Some of the fascinating landmarks:

Fantastic collections of rock walls:

Stunning vistas:

And the conifer arboretum:

We did manage to walk through the incredible exhibition “Gardens of the Alhambra” which was beyond words but unfortunately, my batteries died in the camera and I was only able to get a few pics:

I can’t wait to get back again in the Fall and will be sure to share the experience with you once again.

John