Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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A Look Back

Fall is a great time to review and plan next year's garden

It’s time to hang up that trowel, make yourself a cup of tea and review this year’s garden. Here’s a quick quiz.

My garden was:

a) Awesome! I wouldn’t change a thing.

b) Good, although I lost some plants during those 100-degree days.

c) Okay. There are some sections I need to rework next spring.

d) Well, there’s always next year.

If you’re like most gardeners, you probably checked b) or c). After all, a garden is constantly changing. Trees and shrubs grow larger. Some plants turn out to be too aggressive. Others just don’t make it or aren’t thriving in their current location. Maybe your tastes have changed and that old design just won’t do.

Regardless of the reason, fall is a great time to review because you can still remember this past year fairly accurately. It’s a lot harder in the spring when several months of snow and cold have caused “gardener’s amnesia.”

So what worked? What didn’t? Need more color in the spring? Summer? Fall?

Make a to-do list. I'm still working on mine, which will be a long one this time around. The trees I put in five years ago are starting to create shade and some shrubs need to be moved as a result. Several of my ornamental grasses have reached their mature size and need to be divided. I’ve expanded a few beds. Plus I’m always on a quest to better balance the bloom in my borders.

For some reason I still don’t understand, my front yard looks best in mid- to late summer, while the back yard peaks in spring and early summer. Maybe it’s because I really enjoy looking out at all my spring bulbs in the back yard from my kitchen table after a long winter. And they are always too long.

This year, I’m also trying something new. I’m taking pictures of the sections that need work, printing them out on plain paper in black and white and making notes in bold black marker. Sort of a visual version of a to-do list. I’m hoping that will inspire me to get into the garden earlier and organize my time better.

Of course, there always will be the usual spring transplanting/moving which my husband refers to as “rearranging the furniture.” He didn’t understand until I put it in terms that he, as a roller coaster enthusiast, could understand.

“It’s like Disneyland,” I said, jokingly. “It will never be done.”

By Karen Geisler


  1. I do like the "visual" to do list. Great idea. Can I pinch it, Karen?
    I think I'm a c in the ornamental garden and a d in the kitchen garden. It was a bad year for fruit nd veg.

  2. Go ahead and use whatever works for you. And don't despair. This summer was a bad one for many gardeners, myself included, due to the extreme heat.