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The year that was


Another year has almost whooshed by. I know I’m not the only one who feels like time is passing more quickly than it used to, but I think for gardeners, certain times of the years pass amazingly quickly.

It’s always interesting to look back at the successes and failures (and everything in between) of the past year. Here’s what happened in 2017:

At the beginning of the year we cut the cable cord. The most intimidating part of the whole thing was just making sure we had everything set up to get over-the-air television and could record it. I’ll tell you that a year later we have not missed cable one bit and we have about $1,000 extra dollars in our bank account. Here’s how we did it.

In February I declared my intention to use a garden journal for the first time. Rather than go into a bunch of excuses, I’ll just say that the last entry it in it was in June. I’ll try again though.

mushroom spawn in fridge

I also posted about the mushroom spawn in my fridge. And then I never really talked about it much after that. This is never a good sign on this blog. In fact, I “planted” it as suggested and there were still no mushrooms at the end of September. I wrote to the company I bought it from and they suggested a call to talk about what might have gone wrong. Well I never got around to calling and then all of a sudden I looked one day in late October and there were mushrooms! Not a lot, but several. And then it froze and I never got a chance to pick a single one. I’ll try this again too.

circle garden designI unveiled my plan for the newly redesigned circle garden too. This was by far the biggest gardening project of 2017, and it started in late 2016.

stacey hirvela

In March, which is the toughest month for northern gardeners because it really is too soon to do anything in the garden but if you don’t get out there you’re going to go crazy, I chatted with Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery’s horticulture marketing specialist and lover of native plants. She was so fun to talk to.

stained pots

One of my best and simplest DIYs of the year was changing the color of the Restoration Hardware pots I found on clearance. After a season of using them, I can report that the stain held up perfectly and they still look great.

basement design mood board

Then I got my DIY on and joined the One Room Challenge for the second time (the first was when we redid our downstairs bathroom). This time I tackled the finished half of the basement. Spoiler alert: You never saw the reveal because I never got to it. Believe it or not, almost a full year later, this room still isn’t finished, but the new cork floor was the biggest and best change we could have made down there. There are a few projects I still need to do, and they are on the agenda for January, so hopefully soon. Either way it’s SO much better than it was.



I got my dahlia tubers potted up to get a jump on the season and shared a tutorial on how to do it.

tomato seedling

And I shared how to pot on tomato seedlings. I had some great, strong tomato plants last year … and gave SO many away because I grew way too many.

There was also a fabulous trip to Savannah with my Troy-Bilt friends, even if getting to and from there was akin to something out of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

It was a horrible winter for plants. In fact, I think I lost more plants last winter than I have any other year that I’ve been gardening. A lack of snow cover and a hard freeze/thaw cycle was the death nail for a lot of plants in my garden.

The rules for tree planting are probably different than what you’ve known in the past. I shared the how and the why of the new right way to plant a tree when I planted the new Asian pear espalier by the fireplace. The tree did great all summer.

I’ll be the first to admit that I make some decisions in my garden that are out of the norm. I shared some of them and why I embrace their weirdness here.

rabbits everywhere

In spring, it became clear that we had a serious rabbit problem in the garden for the first time. Traps didn’t work (we caught possoms), but I had some success with repeated applications of Plantskyyd. By the end of the summer the local foxes got on the ball and the population seemed greatly reduced.

I shared a review of all of the summer containers I planted up, both in this post and in a video.

Meanwhile, by June, the circle garden was really starting to grow.

charming fence with rosesAs I always do in July, I escaped for some sailing, which always takes me to Mackinac Island, which is full of charming gardens.

non-vining clematisHere’s a type of clematis that you really should be growing, even if you’ve never heard of it before.

I toured a fun garden in August. The single best thing a gardener can do is get into other gardens. There is always a takeaway.

My friend made the cutest chicken coop on the planet and shared a list of chicken-resistant plants that the girls won’t eat. By the way, check out this gorgeous pictures of her hens enjoying a bit of winter outside their stylish coop.

Later in summer, I was able to show you how less-than-perfect plants rescued from the nursery turned into gorgeous, full pots of color.

In what is surely the saddest discovery I’ve ever made in my garden, I found nasty, invasive worms. They’ve turned up in almost every part of my yard and garden this is just something I’ll have to learn to live with.

Screening plants for sun are a cinch. Screening plants for less than full sun can be difficult to find. I shared a list of some that might work for you.

Here’s why I think you probably shouldn’t stress out too much about pruning.

garden path

Don’t fool yourself: All garden paths require maintenance. You just have to decide how much you can handle.

In what I think was the first announced plan for the 2018 garden, I shared a long-term change I’d like to make.

I ran down the how-tos of dahlia tuber storage in November.

Much of the penultimate month of the year was spent finishing up a new website (the one you’re looking at now). I hope you like it!

Of course you can grow shrubs in containers, even if you live somewhere cold. I shared some ways to keep them thriving.

Mix of greens in a window box

And I shared some of my winter container designs. These will add some much-needed color to the yard for next few months.

And that brings us to now! I don’t have to tell you that I’m already anxious to start working on next year’s garden, as I’m sure you are. As much as I am envious of those who can do at least some work in the garden all year long, there is a certain amount of enthusiasm that comes from being stuck inside for several months. It’s what gets me through long weeding sessions in spring. It’s also what allows any indoor projects to get done.

Thanks for coming along for the ride in 2017! What was the highlight of your gardening or DIY year?

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6 Responses

  1. Loved your year in the garden roundup. It is so good to look back at our failures as well as successes in our gardens. I have been a master gardener for over 25 yes but I learn new things about gardening every season. I garden in North Carolina now but am a transplant from Connecticut so I appreciate the rest winter brings and though shorter here in N. C it is still va!uble . I write a monthly gardening column for our local paper and always take time off from Dec. to Feb to refresh and get new inspiration for new articles. Thank you so much for your blog. I certainly enjoy it. Happy New Year.

  2. Don’t give up on the journal. It took me a couple of tries but it now is part of my weekend routine – though weekends may not be the best timing for a sailor. For me the key was a journal with a hard cover so I can write while I do a walk-around. My journal is impressions, ideas and observations. I have a waterproof notebook that I keep with my garden tools for my to-do list.

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