Well, here it is next year already. I didn’t think it would arrive so soon.
I have a mental listing of what I have planned in the garden for next year, hoping against hope that next year will offer up better conditions than last year did. The high low-point of last year’s horrors, of course, was the cyclone that wiped out a big part of our garden.
Among my self-ordered assignments is a big spring cleaning, starting right away. Get enough garden gear out of the garage that we can park at least one passenger vehicle in said two-car garage. Then there are the logs remaining from the Perfect Storm that need removing before the buried daffodils try to push them up. That will be right away now.
Another thing: finally, finally I will next year hire some trustworthy tree service to cut down and haul away, far from my eyes, the stinking sycamore tree I planted some 40 years ago. I was much younger then and had no inkling of what a trash tree it really was. Then maybe you won’t have to hear me carry on about the wretched thing any more.
If I don’t get it done, you will hear more about its horrors when the seedballs explode in spring and secure themselves deeply in every nook and cranny of our garden, to sprout with the alacrity of perhaps 150 percent germination and grow into an unpullable state in about six hours.
It is strange how stubborn we gardeners are when it comes to planting and replanting plants that have failed over and over. Next year, I swear I will not plant any more ‘Blue Star’ junipers. Over the years I have killed perhaps 20 as they went down to juniper blight or some other unknown malady. Not a one survives. Even as late as last year, I planted three or four, including an attractive one grown on a standard. All dead within three months.
Ditto the marvelous native sourwood tree. I will plant no more next year. They somehow, in the wild, push up through rocks and mud on apparently uninhabitable roadsides, to flower with abandon in July and August, then present glossy cerise foliage in autumn with the attractive remains of the flowers yet extant. How many, oh how many, have I planted? All ended up on the chipper truck.
And dwarf conifers. No wonder my friend Mike Garner is such a pessimist. He dotes on them and buys them by the bushel, some priced in at least three figures. I tried it last year and the years before that, and their ultimate goal in life is to die, and that as soon as possible. I was lucky to get them home in time to see them turn up their heels. Via the dwarf conifer route, Mike has made a pessimist out of me too, though he has some several hundred still surviving. People come from far and wide to view the things.
Next year I will buy no more cheap tools. Every time I fall for one that looks inviting I get maybe a day or two, sometimes three, out of it before it falls apart, often with the result of wrack and ruin to some bodily part.
No more moving three-man rocks around in order to get them to look just right. Not next year or the next. I am reduced to, at most, one-boy rocks, and that reluctantly. It was fun while it lasted.
Next year I will reduce by a considerable percentage, some of the most high-maintenance plants on our place. I got a start last year (a few days ago) when I grubbed a 40-year-old Manhattan euonymous that had grown tentacles longer than those of the biggest octopus in the ocean. Every one was rooted down so deep that they had to be extracted by hand, and none of them wanted to go, but they finally did.
Next year, there are more of them scheduled for death row, along with numerous other things. It hurts, but not as much as putting up with their frailties.
And … next year I will kill all the deer I can see.
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.