Searching for spring takes keen eyes, so it’s a good thing I just had cataract surgery. Otherwise, these tiny tips just pushing through the soil might have been overlooked. After a long walk-about in the sunshine today, those few little shoots were nearly all that could be found. It’s frustrating for a gardener, especially when others are posting pictures of their newly opened crocuses and snowdrops. Sigh.
It’s still too early to plant any seeds in the potager, although I’m toying with the idea of putting in some snow peas, since I have such a large package of “Little Purple” seeds. Watering the seedling flats under lights in the basement takes only a few minutes every other day. Only 400 seedlings seems a mere pittance when by this time I’m normally dealing with several thousands. I haven’t even fired up the hobby greenhouse yet, because the forecast is for temperatures in the teens again this week and snow. Forty years of scheduling makes my mind says, “Hurry, hurry. Seed. Seed.” Unfortunately, I must force myself to wait. And wait. So, what is a frustrated gardener to do?
Well, now that I can see to read, I’ve decided to make the most of these days until I can play outdoors. I love libraries, and our little public library is more than willing to order books on interlibrary loan. I’ve borrowed several books over the winter, mostly on kitchen gardens, but after a brief hiatus with houseguests and the eye thing, I’ve switched to garden design. The potager is my new passion, but I should also spend some time and energy on the existing beds surrounding the house and deck. They are pretty basic and could do with some flair and design updates. The top book on my list was this one:
“The Layered Garden” by David Culp, and I devoured every page. Culp’s concept is one of well-planned succession plantings. Garden areas should be like an onion, where not only each season, but actually every few weeks a new layer is peeled away to reveal yet another perfect scene. Sometimes these involve entire color palette changes. In another aspect of the “layered” garden, he explains the importance of ground plants, mid-height plants, airy, see-through shrubs, and mature trees and how each one can contribute texture, color, and support. Culp believes the garden scene is like a theatre with changing plays, but performed by a constant troop of players. During one performance, the hellebores may be the star of the show, while in the next their foliage simply provides a supporting role. He uses an abundance of bulbs, perennials and shrubs with annuals playing only bit parts and fill-in characters. Even if you don’t plan to make changes to your garden, you will enjoy the beautiful photography in this book, and I found the cultural information very helpful. If you have any interest in garden design, I think you’ll like it.
Garden design books generally have gorgeous, full-color, glossy photographs, so they tend to be pricey, expensive books, like this one, which is nearly $50. Sure glad I could get it from the library :
“On Garden Style” by Bunny Williams, a well-known interior decorator who has a passion for translating her famous decorating style into her gardens. I’ve only begun the first chapter, but I can tell the author breaks things down into manageable concepts. She touts viewing the garden as various garden “rooms,” which is not a new concept at all, but unlike some “experts” she readily agrees that it is not for every space. Already her book is making me view my property with new eyes…..cataract-free eyes.