Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When green isn't good

Green is a color that really stands out in the winter garden, since there's not much of it, and it can be a beautiful sight. Snow on conifers? Lovely.  

Red osier dogwood with bamboo. Photo by Rachel Shaw
But in my yard there's a fair amount of winter green that is not good. Some of the most invasive plants I battle are evergreen, in particular English ivy and bamboo. It took two years to kill the thick vines of ivy that had bullied their way almost to the canopy of our two largest shade trees. Ripping out the normal sized vines as they sneak across the ground is ongoing. I've wrestled up to the surface the bamboo rhizomes that embed their gnarly fingers underground, sending up little flags of green shoots at unexpected locations.

The visibility of this unwelcome green in winter is an opportunity, I've realized. In the summer these plants can hide in the lushness of all the other green growing things. Not so in winter. Time to put on the boots and gloves, get the pruners, and attack while I can see the enemy clearly!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter rest

Although I love gardening, I do appreciate the respite that winter brings. No more nagging sense of all the things left undone in the garden. The garden gets a rest, and so do I.
Coneflowers in Winter. Photo by Rachel Shaw
Winter is traditionally the time to look at seed catalogs and garden books, to reflect and to plan, and to wait for spring. It's a time for resolutions, and I do have a few. I recently read Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich. I plan to follow many of his directives, including gardening "from the top down" by building up the soil and tilling as little as possible. I  want to put down plenty of mulch early in areas where I won't be planting. And I plan to use the torch weeder on the driveway early in the spring, before those first weeds have gotten a start.

Nevertheless, I don't expect to have a weedless garden. My most important resolution? To take time to enjoy the garden I have, and not worry too much about its imperfections. And actually, for my life as a whole, ditto.