Reflections of 2021 and anticipation for 2022 gardens

In the Garden

Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Gardener


      The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is generally a time to reflect on what the old year held and to make plans for the new.  I doubt that anyone is sorry to see the end of 2021, and it is undoubtedly a universal hope that 2022 will see the end of the pandemic and prosperity for all.  However, at least in the garden, 2021 was not a terrible year.  There were no extended droughts or floods in our corner of the world and while we endured the 17-year cicada swarm, I heard from no one whose garden was adversely affected.  I actually missed their hum in the garden when their cycle was completed and they dug into the soil for another 17 years.

     A cool spring resulted in a longer bloom period for many spring flowers, while causing some delays in the vegetable garden.  However, all-in-all, it was a good year for vegetables.  The start may have been delayed, but the growing season was long, with a killing frost waiting until late autumn.  Actually, this past week, I have picked leaf lettuce from the garden and could harvest mustard, kale, bok choy and parsnips. 

     I made some great advances at Sandhill Gardens, with the installation of the moon gate and other progress in the moon garden.  The lack of a mulch supply and some personal health concerns caused some delays last spring, but I have a mountain of mulch now and am doing much better.  I have mulch to protect newly-planted shrubs, trees and perennials from the heaving effects of the freeze-thaw cycles that usually wreak havoc in southern Indiana gardens at this time of the year.  We have probably had enough cold weather to allow the addition of protective mulch on any day when the garden is accessible.  Remember that the purpose of this mulch is not to keep the ground from freezing, but to keep the frozen ground from thawing rapidly and displacing the roots of newly-planted specimens.  If you have the constitution, it is perfectly acceptable to spread mulch on days when the temperatures are below freezing.

     On my garden walks, I have noticed the appearance of some foliage of spring bulbs that has already erupted.  This is nothing to excite anyone.  That foliage may also be protected by some mulch, and it is pretty hardy, so it will take a lot of cold.  Other than some mulch, there is really nothing that you can do about it, so do not worry about it.  You may lose some spring blooms, but most of the plants will survive and will come back the following year.  Many bulbs will re-set themselves at a proper depth, so just relax and let nature take its course.

     I am making plans for the new gardening season.  I want to add more evergreens to the landscape, using different shapes, colors and textures to fill some space.  Over time, some perennials may be displaced, but the addition of the evergreens will result in less maintenance, and as I grow older, that will be important.  I do plan to retire from my secular vocation in July and hope that will result in more time in the garden and more time for other avocations, including some crafting of new garden art pieces.  I hope to get some work done on outbuildings to make them more presentable and more usable.  I would like to find a home for my collection of antique gardening tools and accessories, creating a gardening museum to show to gardeners who come to visit.  I also hope to make better defined pathways in the gardens and keep ahead of the weeds.  I added several new rhododendrons to the rhodo-ramble this year.  I pray they will survive and will be putting on a show in the spring.  That path is pretty rough and needs a lot of work.  There will be no shortage of projects for my retirement years.  I pray God will allow me several years to work in this little piece of Heaven in southern Indiana.

      Happy New Year!!!  Start thumbing through the catalogues.  Spring is not far away!


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