Taking Stock Heading into Planting Season

Last night the temperature dipped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit here in Eastern Iowa.  It might do so again tonight, but the overnight temperatures looking outward appear to be on the warmer than freezing side.  It is going to be plating season soon.

Usually, I am quick to plant and then said when my plants die because of a late season frost.  Perhaps with a little global climate change or luck my desire to get out into the yard will not result in shriveled shrubs, barren bushes, or tearful trees.  Sorry, I love alliteration.

Last year, I was aggressive in getting plants into the ground because I was given a blank canvas in the form of a yard that had beds edged out but not a single plant.  If there is one advantage to moving in the winter that was it.  Otherwise the only good thing would be to consider hustling boxes out of one house and into another while simultaneously freezing one’s rear end off while also managing to sweat some kind of perverse muscle therapy.

In one season I planted nine trees, replanted one tree, planted seven blueberry bushes, and filled out the majority of the flower beds in the front of my house.  At the end of the season my wife and I took advantage of a mail order nursery’s super special to plant a series of bulbs and bare root perennials in a shade garden along the back of the house.

Almost everything has appeared to have survived, if not thrived.  The blueberries are putting out a lot of little white flowers that will turn into delectable berries, the crabapple has an abundance of magenta flowers, and all of the trees are budding or needling out.  I thought I was going to lose the elm that I planted as my designated street tree.  In the last couple of days it has really come to life with budding leaves.

That leaves one lone “Tom Thumb” cotoneaster as my sole dead winter casualty.  The two companion cotoneasters survived the winter just fine, which makes me wonder what caused this specimen to fail.  Just a weak constitution I guess.

Not having to replace a lot of plantings leaves more time to fill in the rest of the beds and replace as much lawn as possible this season.  The first step is going to be filling in the front yard beds with a collection of drought resistant ground covers that will provide a variety of color throughout the season.  Around my compost bins I would like to plant something with a vertical habit and showy summer color, perhaps a butterfly garden to attract pollinators.  I also have two corners of my yard that would be perfect for creating a pair of tree plantings with shrubs mixed in to replace lawn and provide animal habitat.

So much to do and so little time to visit the garden center…


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