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The Best of 2011

2011 was like an extreme sandwich for the garden. The summer was hot and dry, nestled in between a spring and fall that were both cold and wet. Top that off with an addition to our home and we definitely found this year to be quite a proposition. Yet as I sit, listening to the snowfall outside at the close of 2011, I look back and discover many highlights to the year. So, despite the distractions and challenges of the past year, I look forward to the next, remembering what the sculptor Rodin said: “The realities of nature surpass our most ambitious dreams.”

This was my first year overwintering coleus, or any annuals for that matter. While I was successful in propagating several starts for the garden, the deer and rabbits devoured them like candy. Never say die though, I’m trying again this winter and have learned to be more selective as to where I plant them.

Coleus Sedona
Coleus Sedona

Despite a very cold and wet start to the year, May and June turned out some fantastic blooms. While temperatures were on the low side, we did not have any late frosts to spoil the show from spring fruit trees.

Crab Apple Trees In Bloom
Crab Apples In Bloom
Serviceberry in Bloom
Amelanchier x grandiflora – Serviceberry

Once the sun did decide to shine, nothing could surpass the show. With all of the rain in spring, the garden leaped ahead with amazing new growth and colours.

Fagus Sylvatica Tricolor Beech
Fagus Sylvatica Roseo-Marginata — Tricolor Beech
Kolkwitzia amabilis 'Beauty Bush' in bloom
Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Beauty Bush’

The rains also held back just in time for peony season, a good thing since all the spring rains really meant that the blooms were over-sized this year.

Champagne Pink Peony blooms
Champagne pink peony.
Peony Cheddar Charm
Peony Cheddar Charm

And while there were some disappointments in the vegetable garden (we don’t mention the words green beans and deer in one sentence in our house right now) our garlic, onions and potato crop were the best ever.

harvested garlic
Harvested Garlic 2011

And finally true to its name, my Endless Summer Hydrangea bloomed non-stop from late spring until after the first frosts. I don’t know whether it was the lack of spring frost or all of the spring rain, but I’m hoping for a repeat performance next year.

Endless Summer Hydrangea Blooms
Endless Summer Hydrangea

Perhaps a result of the cold and wet fall, the fall colours were not quite as vibrant this year. Many trees held their leaves late into the season and what colour did appear came sporadically. The few that did though, were worth the wait.

Clethra alnifolia in fall
Clethra alnifolia
Sassafras albidum
Sassafras albidum fall foliage
Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' Pear
Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ Pear was one of the last trees to change colour

Discovering new and easier ways to do things is always a great treat for a gardener. One of my best purchases this past year was a small electric push mower. It is super easy to start (can you say push a button?!) and light weight. It’s small size made it ideal for cutting down perennials in fall and best of all to chop up 70 (yes 70) bags of leaves to put on our vegetable garden as nourishment for next year.

mulching leaves
Mulching with my new electric lawn mower

And last but not least, enjoying the fruits (well veggies) of our labour. We are still eating carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic stored in our fruit cellar. And while we picked the last of the lettuce from the garden in mid-December, we still have a bit of spinach and kale under cover. Perhaps I will wander out on New Years day and see if we can start the New Year off with a little fresh produce from our own garden.

So thank you 2011, it turned out to be a good year after all.

One Response

  1. Laurrie
    | Reply

    I like these year end reviews. You’ve got some beauties in your garden — love the peony, and my favorite of course is the big gangly sassafras on its way to becoming a real tree.

    I am considering a tri color beech to plant next year, so will be interested to see how yours grows. The picture from a distance doesn’t show color variation, just a beautiful deep purple.

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