WHEN THINGS GO WRONG, SAVE WHAT YOU CAN

This is not an exciting photo.



It's exactly what it looks like: A recently mulched garden bed with very few plants in it.

I'm sharing it with you to show you that things don't always go as planned and sometimes you just have to do what you can.

When I decided last year to reclaim this little corner from the naturalized area that takes up a good portion of our property, I knew I was being optimistic. I honestly do not have time to adequately maintain all the garden beds I've created over the years. (This is what happens when Midwestern gardeners get bored in winter: We design new gardens that we don't have time for.) We planted a couple hundred pink daffodils in it last fall and in spring it looked very nice. The plan after that was to direct sow a bunch of seeds and let it go a little wild.

And then the rabbits came. Every seedling that managed to come up despite a fair bit of neglect on my part was promptly nibbled down. In the end, even the Icelandic poppies that I had nurtured since February were mowed down. I saw one bloom and the rabbits even ate that so I don't even have any seeds to show for it.

As is the case in these reclaimed areas (which are far more difficult to turn into a garden than an area that used to be lawn), the weeds started moving in. I knew that all my hard work (not to mention a yard of topsoil I bought last year) would quickly be undone if I didn't act quickly.


So last weekend I edged the bed (still my favorite way of improving any garden space), weeded it thoroughly and heavily mulched it with chips from trees we had cut down in spring. Sidenote: Finding a place for the arborist to put those wood chips instead of having them hauled away was the best thing we've ever done. All year I've had a ready supply of really good wood chips for free.

It looks pretty ridiculous, to be honest, but I've saved it for this year and over winter I can develop a new plan for this area. If I do some moving and dividing of plants in fall I'll be able to plant there as well.

It's not what I had envisioned, but not every garden is a success right off the bat. In fact, few of them are. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.


14 comments :

  1. Don't give up! These things happen. You will have all winter to dream and plan. I look forward to seeing your garden bed bloom and spectacular. Bon courage!

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  2. I love this and can identify to a certain extent. Although, I'm not quite ready to share those areas of my yard yet.

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    1. Oh and there are some in my yard that are worse than that!

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  3. It is so disappointing to have a complete breakdown of a garden plan. Those pesky rabbits can make mincemeat out of an area. They probably thought they had hopped into heaven with all the fresh greens. Better luck next time. If nothing else we gardeners are persistent and can adapt. You will get double pleasure of this garden soon. You can think and plan all winter then plant it up next spring.

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  4. A blank canvas just waiting for inspiration to strike!

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  5. I've had a spot like that for over a year. Just started planting it and am already changing my mind. Rabbits are eating my Jp. painted ferns and the 10 turkeys flew in last evening landing on plants and flattening them. Rabbits have not touched Hellebores, all other ferns, Astilbe, any type of true Geranium, Heuchera, daylilies, dwarf Hemlocks, Hostas.

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    1. That's crazy that they are only going for the painted ferns, although I noticed that something has been nibbling on my 'Ghost' fern. Little buggers.

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  6. I'm five years in to my new gardening space (total 5.6 acres, about 3 under grass with lots of flower/shrub/tree beds) and this fall I need to make a few adjustments. I'm mainly adding more evergreen boxwood and blue star juniper for winter interest, and replacing heuchera and other perennials for more color. A garden is never finished or perfect....always a work in progress. I get tired of fighting the deer and bunnies, but share I do. A new 30 lb Labradoodle puppy also loves to flop on top of the salvia or lirope. Alas, gardening hope springs eternal!

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    1. I bet that's one cute puppy! And we all know they are cute so we don't kill them when they are naughty. Enjoy!

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  7. Like you, we had a huge pile of wood chips from trees and brush taken out of our wooded area. It's great to have all the mulch I need but it has it's drawbacks. I've learned that as the chips break down, they rob the soil of nitrogen so in a few years you will have to majorly fertilize if you want anything to flourish. Also, seeds will not germinate in wood chips or decomposed wood chips so forget about scattering seeds in these beds without first adding bags of garden soil.
    Having said all that, it's great to be able to keep ahead of the weeds and not have to water so much.

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    1. I have great news for you, Bunny: That bit about wood chips tying up nitrogen in the soil is an old wive's tale. So feel free to apply them at will! You're right about the germination though, but when I get to that point, I'll just pull back the mulch to expose the soil. Or maybe I'll change my mind on doing seeded annuals there. Who knows what I'll come up with by next year.

      Here's some research on the wood chip-nitrogen issue: https://puyallup.wsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/wood-chips.pdf

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