Friday, December 28, 2012

Take Stock Now for Spring Changes

     I can always count on certain things happening at certain times of the year.  They almost define those times of the year for me.  I come to count on, for instance, receiving my first Christmas card the weekend after Thanksgiving.  My cousin always manages to get her cards out so that they arrive on Sat. after Thanksgiving.  This marks the beginning of the pre-Christmas season for me.  I know that I will receive cards until the end of the month and then get two to three in Jan.  I also look forward to the receipt of seed catalogs.  They begin to come at the end of Dec. just after Christmas.  In fact, I have already received three for the year and they came this week.
     I would guess that I probably get more catalogs than most people because of my profession.  Even if I might never order from any particular company, I love to get their catalogs and I love to pore through them.  It is interesting to see what is currently available and what people are looking to plant.
     The end of the year is a great time to take stock of your site as well.  A site is a very dynamic thing with plants that are perpetually changing.  Even the greatest designed and the best maintained site will have fatalities and plants that over time just do not work. Often, the reasons for their failure are most unpredictable.
     In my own yard, for instance, I have had a great deal of loss due to animals.  Deer seem to think that my property is their own personal salad bar.  This can be helpful - like the hillside of English ivy that came from next door and has been cropped by deer into submission.  This can also be problematic - like the Indian hawthorne and strawberries that have been grazed into nonexistence.  What the deer leave behind, the squirrels eat.  I have lost tons of bulbs this way including garlic, saffron crocus and onions.  Somewhere in my yard or the forest behind it are squirrels with some very bad breath but very low cholesterol.
     As things grow, they create shade for areas that might have previously been sunny.  This also leads to some decline and loss.  Likewise, trees growing up lead to more opening and sun along their edges where undergrowth has previously been shading the area.
     In my yard, I have identified the next focus of work.  It is an area that has been grass, but it has over the last couple of years declined to virtually nothing but bare soil.  Knowing that I intend to focus my attention to this area in the spring, I have covered it with leaves.  This will act to kill out whatever might still be growing there.  In the spring I intend to turn this area under and then seed it with a mix of shade-loving perennials.  It will be a very different look than it has had in the past.  By spring the leaves that have been raked into this area should have had a chance to begin breaking down.  This will make the soil much more friable and fertile when it is turned under and tilled.  That in turn should help with the seedlings as they attempt to become established.  In the meantime, I have all winter to dig the trench and place the bricks that I intend to use for the edge on both sides of this area.
     Take stock.  What is it that your site needs?  Do you have areas that need some work?  Now is the time to figure that out and decide what to do about it. 

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