It’s 2012. The year is new and promises bountiful produce and ever-blooming ornamentals. In January gardeners can blissfully dream about their future sun-filled gardens, but what exactly makes up the garden of our dreams? Reading the latest articles, looking at newly published garden books and listening to customers at the nursery, I’ve come up with my own list for the future. This list includes ideas gardeners are talking about and projects they want to implement. Welcome to 2012, let’s create the perfect garden!
Color please! Anything but green! Here in the Northwest we see green everywhere. We breathe green, we eat and drink green. It’s green all summer, green all winter and people are saying, enough! Give me vibrant red. I want deep, dark black. What do you have in sunny yellow? Plants with dazzling foliage are preferred. Black Lace Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva) has intense purple-black foliage and contrasting creamy pink lacy flowers. Fine Wine Weigela (Weigela florida ‘Bramwell’ has dramatic dark purple foliage all season long. Gold Splash Wintercreeper (Euonymous fortunei ‘Roemertwo’) has bright, bold yellow and green variegated leaves. Arctic Fire Redtwig Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera ‘Farrow’) has dark red stems that glow in the winter. Now we have some contrast in the garden.
Work with nature, not against it. Sustainable Gardening has already become the standard in our area, but new gardeners continue to learn these tried and true organic methods. Composting, beneficial insects, planting with wildlife in mind, using native plants, mulching, growing food without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or inorganic fertilizers all combine to make sustainable gardening. Many recently published books are written on these subjects. Some new books for 2012 include The Naturescaping Workbook: A Step by Step Guide for Bringing Nature to Your Backyard by Beth O’Donnell Young and Karen Bussolini and High-Impact, Low-Carbon Gardening: 1001 Ways to Garden Sustainably by Alice Bowe. Buy local and shop at your independent garden center!
Flowering Shrubs are pushing out perennials. Perennials will always have a special place in our hearts, but with our fast-paced, hectic lifestyle, gardeners want low maintenance plants. Something that doesn’t need too much attention and fills a larger space, while also providing flowers and fragrance. Some new varieties include Bloomerang Purple Lilac (Syringa x ‘penda’) which gives twice the color when it reblooms in summer. Blue Chip Dwarf Summer Lilac (Buddleja Lo & Behold ‘Blue Chip) is a small butterfly bush with purple flowers that bloom from summer into the fall. Bronze Anniversary Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Reka1) has bronze-orange foliage and white blooms in the spring (and it’s deer resistant!)
Grow your own food. With the cost of living consistently going up and health risks in the food production industry, many people, including some who have never sown a seed or pulled a hoe, want to grow their own. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also chickens for eggs, grapes for wine and learning the venerable art of home canning and preserving. For those not able to maintain a garden, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Two new books in this category are What’s Wrong With My Vegetable Garden?: 100% Organic Solutions for All Your Vegetables, from Artichokes to Zucchini, by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth and Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom
Fresh new picks for strength and vitality. Gardeners want beauty, but with our weather changes over the last few years, hardiness and disease resistance are center stage. People have grown tired of replacing their New Zealand Flax and Escallonia and are looking for plants with more staying power. Oregon State University has developed a group of Port Orford Cedars called the Guardian Series with improved disease resistance. The ‘Heat Wave’ series of Salvias have been bred for their compact habit and disease resistance and are ideal for drought tolerant gardens.
It’s a Small World. Garden spaces are shrinking and many people with only a patio or deck want to grow something green. Gardening in a small space has it’s limits, and limitless potential as well. Growing in containers, boxes, tubs, barrels, hanging pots, vertical surfaces and even the roof is increasingly popular. Container gardening allows us to have a perfect little well-tended plot right by our front door. Community gardens or pea patches have a loyal following, like the one at Marymoor Park in Redmond, which has been operating for over 30 years.
As 2012 expectantly begins, and dreams of dinner-plate dahlias and fresh sweet corn float through our heads, think about your garden and make a plan. Whether it’s trying something age-old (growing vegetables) or something surprisingly new (a lilac that blooms in September?!) it’s time to garden!