Gardening Resolutions for 2021
By Paul James
I usually avoid making New Year’s resolutions, particularly those that involve losing weight or exercising more, largely because I’m not very good at doing either (even though I need to do both!). But I have committed to a number of gardening resolutions. And I plan to keep every one of them.
Lawns are the most resource-consuming portion of our properties, requiring vast amounts of water, and in most cases lots of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, and labor. So I’m going to reduce the size of my lawn by creating a new shrub border and shade garden, a new perennial garden, and if Carrie and I can come to terms on the design, a large fire pit and outdoor seating area. Combined, they’ll reduce the size of our lawn by around 2,500 square feet. Hey, every little bit helps, and less mowing is always a good thing.
There’s always room for more conifers! Well, except in my garden. So I intend to plant a half dozen or so in containers, mostly smaller ones like Arborvitae ‘Gruene Kugel’ and ‘Whipcord,’ Deodar Cedar ‘Snow Sprite’ and ‘Feelin’ Sunny,’ Bosnian Pine ‘Banderica,’ and Cryptomeria ‘Dwarf Globe,’ just to name a few. Oh, and I’ll also be planting a bunch of those mini conifers in pots too — some solo, some in groups — because they’re so darn cute!
More Perennials for Pollinators
Plant once. Enjoy for years, even decades to come. That’s the power of perennials, and I plan to add at least 30 or 40 varieties this year in my new perennial garden, particularly those that are native and attract pollinators. The garden will be in front of my fenced vegetable garden, which is 80-feet long, and in plain view from my back porch. It’s gonna be awesome. And I’ll have room for more conifers!
I have several large trees on my property and no room for more, but this past weekend I zeroed in on three spots — two in the shade and one in full sun — where I have room for small trees. So in the shade I’m going to plant two Japanese maples (haven’t decided which, but they’re all beautiful) and in the sunny spot I’m gonna go with a Gingko called ‘Jade Butterflies’ that grows to about 12 feet.
More Plants for Birds
In addition to planting specifically for pollinators, I’m going to focus on attracting more birds in my new shrub border. The area doesn’t get much sun, but that’s okay, because one of my favorite groups of shrubs, namely Viburnums, don’t need much sun and many of them produce berries that birds love. In an area that gets the most sun, I’m going to plant a Chokeberry and an Elderberry, whose fruits are also prized by birds. I’ll also add some large Yews — probably ‘Hicks’ or ‘Capitata’ — because their dense foliage offers ideal nesting sights, especially for robins and cardinals.
And when that’s all said and done, I’ll have gotten quite a bit of exercise and maybe, just maybe, lost a few pounds along the way.
Happy gardening, ya’ll. And Happy New Year!
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