A cut above

Janice Wells
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I started thinking about gardening New Year’s resolutions and I quickly decided that reiterating all the things I planned to do this year and didn’t get around to, wasn’t even going to impress/fool me, let alone anyone else.

Oh, I still want to improve my spring garden (a little late for that now), completely redo the front beds, ie, dig up all the self seeders and rampant spreaders and replace them with better behaved plants, and achieve more constant perennial colour everywhere. But even if I don’t get the “round tuit” that I need to make those things happen, there is one resolution that I can make happen; I am going to cut more flowers for the house.

I used to have fresh bouquets in the house all the time, but thinking back, I guess that was when I had bigger gardens and could take blossoms away without affecting the look of the garden. There was even a time when I sort of almost planted a cutting garden behind the garage, but that’s another story.

Some gardening gurus will tell you to have a separate area for planting things especially for cutting, so you won’t spoil the look of your main beds by stripping them. One suggestion is to combine cutting flowers with a vegetable garden, which sounds like a good idea, if you have a vegetable garden.

I don’t, and I seem to have fallen out of the habit of making sure there’s something fresh and pretty in the middle of the kitchen table. I think it’s because I’m never satisfied enough with the look of the outdoor garden to take anything away from it.

There’s a lot of pressure when you write a gardening column.

You feel like your garden should look good all the time, even though I do keep stressing that I call myself a gin and tonic gardener for a reason; my favourite activities in the garden are relaxing and reading.

There are weeks during the season when I wish everybody could visit my garden and there are weeks when I wish nobody knew where I live. Sometimes I want to put a sign out front saying “It’s better in the back. Really.”

However, I still do have the scattered posy inside, but this year I’m resolving to have something from the earliest spring bulbs to the last fall leaves.

This is a resolution I can keep even if I don’t carry out any of my other plans/dreams. I actually do have enough in the garden to keep me supplied, even if sometimes I may have to be a bit creative. Focusing on foliage and textures, just accented by a blossom or three, can result in a charming arrangement, or a bit of a wild arrangement, whatever you’re in the mood for.

There are lots of annuals that make good cut flowers and give the garden season-long colour, but because I am much more into perennials, right now I’m sitting here looking out at the huge piles of snow covering everything and trying to remember what I have enough of out there that the garden won’t miss a few blooms; climbing roses, clematis, peonies, campanula (the persicifolia species) candytuft, forget-me-nots, bachelor buttons, hydrangeas, climbing honeysuckle, mallows, bleeding hearts, veronica, delphiniums and hollyhocks (those two are a bit tall; low arrangements suit my low ceilings better).

Also, German iris, Japanese quince, Korean lilacs, helianthus, feverfew and poppies.

My spring bulbs are a bit sparse and despite the good weather I didn’t get any planted this fall. The feverfew is a nuisance, but it makes a great filler or base for bouquets. The poppies don’t last long unless you seal the stem with boiling water or flame, so that’s enough to discourage me.

I’ve probably forgotten some and there are so many more that I either don’t have enough of (like lilies) or just haven’t made room for yet.

It’s hard to imagine anything alive out there in this deep freeze, but the snow actually provides good protection and it’s all waiting.

Only another few months to wait; “next year” is already here.


Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca.

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