Monday, February 7, 2011

Mental gardening

Most gardening in our climate at this time of year is indoors. At our house, indoor gardening is of two types. One is starting seeds and experimenting with growing vegetables under lights. (More about that in another post.) The other is what I call mental gardening, a combination of reading, planning, and looking out the window, trying to see past the patches of crusty crystallized snow.

A pre-spring day

I was doing a little mental gardening this weekend, thinking about what might go into an unexpectedly vacant spot in my front perennial bed. The occupant until recently was a multi-stemmed Arborvitae that once again had been splayed to the ground by the weight of a wet snowfall. The same thing happened last year, and I was tired of fooling with that tree! Plus the 10 foot tree was totally out of place at the edge of my mostly native plant bed. We had already scheduled a tree service to prune dead wood off our two large shade trees, and they kindly agreed to cut the Arborvitae at no additional charge.

I'll have a stump to dig up, and space for something new. A small native shrub would be nice - something that won't get too tall or spread aggressively. Out came the books:  Native Plants of the Northeast by Donald J. Leopold; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's guide to native plants of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Great Natives for Tough Places. So what will it be? Bush honeysuckle? New Jersey tea? Sheep laurel? - an evergreen, that would be nice. In the end it will depend on what's available when I start hitting up the native plant sales this spring.

And then, surprise! Mental gardening gave way to real outdoor time.  The sun came out yesterday, it warmed up a bit, and suddenly spring really did seem not so far off. I got out for a good half hour, picked up some downed branches,  did a little pruning, yanked out some ivy, and tried to avoid the mud. The garden season begins!