Garden.True.North is about gardening in Zone 3,
sharing thoughts, ideas and tips for all northern gardeners.
sharing thoughts, ideas and tips for all northern gardeners.
We once had a three-season porch that overlooked a pond and my backyard gardens. It was furnished with typical rattan porch furniture. We never used it. Why? I would guess we weren’t comfortable.
I refurnished the room with cushy sofas, chairs, and a small table for meals. Outside I added a Pagoda Dogwood and Japanese Maple (both small understory trees growing about 8-10 feet) that provided screening from our neighbors. It made all the difference and we enjoyed the room and used it frequently. Can a similar redo of a garden increase the use of an outdoor room?
Now our screened porch is a screen house set right in the middle of the gardens.
As a gardener I focus on the plants and leave the thought of what it takes to really enjoy my bit of the outdoors to chance. But I would guess that more thoughtful elements in the garden towards comfort would tip the joy meter in an upward direction.
Here’s some things to consider to add to your garden space:
Most suburban yards are developed with wide-open spaces and hardly any separation from our neighbors. This drastically reduces privacy that we naturally crave for relaxation. Michael Pollan in his book Second Nature writes that “a fence or hedge along the street meant one thing: the family who lived behind it was antisocial, perhaps even had something to hide… Any enjoyment of this space was sacrificed to the conceit of wide-open land, for without a fence or hedge, front yards were much too public to spend time in….Fences have always seemed to us somehow un-American. Europeans built walled gardens.”
Oh, how I love to peak into those walled gardens and see how lovely and private those areas would be to enjoy. I say let’s close off some private spaces for us to enjoy our gardens.
A perfect example of a private spot, this one in Tuscany overlooking the countryside. Note the privacy hedges, the chairs & tables and of course the view.
My favorite place to enjoy my gardens is to sit under our upstairs deck on a patio that faces the lake and is surrounded by perennials that change as the growing season matures. I can look out the window and see these gardens that are about 15 feet from the foundation of the house. Many homes have foundation plantings that can only be enjoyed as you approach the house. Move those plantings 10-15 feet away from the house and they can be enjoyed both inside and outside.
A private spot to enjoy the gardens up close is the patio and the overhead deck provides shade and protection during rain showers.
Do you have a favorite spot in your gardens? If not, take a look around your gardens and see what you might do to increase your enjoyment.
“Garden-making is creative work, just as much as painting or writing a poem.” ~Hanna Rion
I don’t think much about creativity when I garden. For me it is more about the desired results; fresh fruits and vegetables, cut flowers for a vase, or a landscape that is pleasing to the senses. Yet it seems “creative” and “gardening” are put together frequently. A google search with these two terms yields 164 million results!
I’ve started to view creativity as more central to my gardening just as I would when decorating the interior of my home. When I look at those Google results they fall into these categories.
Some of these photos are from today, some from other years but all reflect my garden in the winter. I leave my perennials standing because you just never know what nature will provide in the way of a beautiful image.
With the new year I am thinking about what my garden can be in the coming season. Here are my aspirations for 2019:
When the snow flies this gardener gets reading. I can hardly wait to get started on this stack. I've already sneaked a peak into these and am hoping for some quiet days this winter to really dig into these tomes. Here is what I have on my book stack, in no particular order.
Elevation 1313 Feet. I live at the confluence of the east and west forks that start the Chippewa River. It flows 180 miles to join the Mississippi River at Lake Pepin that is the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River, located about 60 miles south of Saint Paul and on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
According to Rhubarb-Central.com "the cultivation methods for forcing rhubarb was developed in the early 1800's. Commercial growers of rhubarb use special forcing sheds, or hot houses, but the home gardener can successfully force rhubarb in a home cellar, a garage, or another outbuilding. Forcing rhubarb can also be done outdoors, in the garden."
The process is a bit involved and I recommend that you do some research before proceeding.
Most spring bulbs need a 12-15 week chilling period. Try dwarf species or hybrids for the best results. I plant mine in potting soil in nursery pots and put them in the vegetable crisper of the beer refrigerator and covered with plastic to keep in the moisture. Avoid putting them with other fruits and vegetables that may emit a gas that will cause them to rot. Be sure to label with the date and species.
Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are the exception needing no chilling period. I keep those bulbs in the fridge unpotted.
Here are some bulbs that are especially suited to forcing:
Wisconsin law was changed as of December 31, 2017 to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. According to an August 10, 2018 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article industrial hemp is a cousin to marijuana but includes only a trace of what makes people high. The same article stated that a 2015 federal law allows universities and state agricultural departs to work with farmers to research growing hemp. If you are potentially interested in this crop, now is the time to explore the possibilities.
The Wisconsin Department of Agricultural, Trade and Consumer Protection states that: The licensing application period for the 2019 growing season will be open from November 1 through December 31, 2018. Downloadable application forms and an online application option will be available here beginning November 1. If you sign up to receive updates (at right), you will receive an email letting you know when the materials are available.
Other sites that may help your research:
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