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Pull Up A Chair…

(I found this lovely photo at a website for a landscaping design firm in Washington.  The pictures on the company's website are lush and beautiful, and they make me long for spring.  Especially the ones in the English garden section.  Just beautiful.)

'Tis the season.  My house is covered in seed catalogs and gardening magazines and all of those landscaping books that I've bought through the years, filled with sunny flower photos to thaw my frozen fingers and toes.  I'm longing for that wet earth smell as things thaw out in the spring.  That first shovel of damp ground, as I fill up my flower beds with new annuals to fill in around the flowering spring bulbs and sprouting perennials that will be pushing up from the cold gray of winter to fill our yard with points of color.

Can't have my flower beds looking barren in my dreams anyway, can I?  At the moment, though, everything is covered with a layer of ice and snow — not a lot, but enough to keep me inside with a blanket and a cup of tea, and my dream landscaping plans. 

I go through this every year.  The seed catalogs come in the mail and I start flipping through them, devouring the beautiful, glossy color photos and turning down corners of pages over and over until, I swear, the whole catalog gets dog-eared.  And then I do my research – will the plant or won't it survive our humid, blistering summer heat?  And, if so, will it make it through the freezing ass cold we're having now?  Ahhh, the perils of zone 5/6 and late frosts.

Every year I dream of hiring someone to come and redo the bones of our entire yard.  Beef up the flower beds adjacent to the house, install a new retaining wall and lift up the front of the yard all the way around to give me a more level planting space.  You know, all the really difficult, but really necessary stuff to get the yard into the perfect shape for planting my dream garden — the English cottage-style, lushly flowered garden of my dreams, snaking around he edge of our yard, the roses spilling out a bit toward the sidewalk.

But I haven't gotten to that point yet.  Maybe this will be the year — sure would be nice.  But, if not, I'm planning for some improvements anyway.

Thus far, here's what I'm planning:

— I am planting a kitchen garden, come hell or high water.  Last year, I didn't get one planted because I was having severe joint issues in that window of planting time, and I spent the whole summer missing my homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers.  Not this year.  I don't care if I have to plant one at a time with a plastic picnic knife, they are going in the ground.   Two or three varieties of tomatoes (any favorites, please do share some names), two mounds of cucumbers, some pepper plants and maybe a zucchini mound as well.  Definitely some fresh herbs in and among my butterfly garden.  And some lettuce.  I just love freshly picked lettuce, don't you?

— This year, I'll tackle the flower bed around the maple tree in the front yard.  I'm thinking a mixed perennial bed of black-eyed susans and blue salvia, along with some annuals to keep the blooming fresh for the summer.

— I'm thinking about experimenting a little with a pot or two of cannas.  Anyone grow those and, if so, do they do well in pots?  I thought that might be easier to bring them in for the winter that way, since I can't leave the tubers in the ground as cold as it gets here.

— I've also been thinking about planting a few dwarf blueberry bushes as landscaping shrubs — but with a bonus, because I love blueberries. 

I've started looking into some butterfly and hummingbird garden ideas as well — the usual suspects, lantana, red annual salvia, bee balm, dianthus, pentas, alyssum and such — but I'm always looking for hints on some new plants, especially ones that work well for the pots on the side porch so I can watch the butterflies and hummingbirds while I blog.  Any favorites in your yard?

Anyway, enough about my plans.  What are your plans for that point when the warmth of spring calls you outside, whether or not the threat of the last frost has passed?  What are you doing to plan for the warmth of summer?  Do you do much planting — or are you thinking about maybe just a geranium in a window pot for the fire escape?  What are your favorite gardening and seed and all things lovely flowers and plants and garden statues and such?  (Do give URLs if you have them.)  Please share…because I am in dire need of some Spring, through your eyes as much as through my own.  And if you aren't much of a gardener, but enjoy doing something with the fresh produce you find at the summer farmer's market, share your favorites — I could use a little glimpse of summer this morning.  Pull up a chair…

More gardening ideas:

Southern Living


P. Allen Smith

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com