Thursday, May 08, 2008

You know those are perennials, don't you?

What is the deal with THAT statement? I was picking out some flowers (yes, perennials, which for all you city dwellers who don't garden, means that you plant them once and they come back year after year) at a local nursery, and some woman came up to me and asked me if I realized that I was looking at perennials. I told her, yes, and as a matter of fact, I was not interested in annuals at all (annuals survive for one season and then the next year it's back to the drawing board).

Last year, when I moved here, it was already late June, and there was no time for me to get up to speed on what grows here in Northern Westchester, and what gets eaten by deer, and I have to admit, I was quite taken by the loveliness and wide availability of the annuals I kept seeing. Many annuals are brightly colored and lushly petaled:

For example, impatiens. You see these everywhere in New York City, bordering sidewalk trees, in the islands on Park Avenue, etc.


Petunias are another ubiquitous annual.

But when I got to thinking about my garden this year, now that I have had the benefit of time to read up on what works in this climate and what won't attract the damn deer, it struck me as vaguely wasteful to purchase a garden full of annuals each year only to have to do it all over again the next year. Wasteful monetarily, energetically and perhaps even ecologically.

I began reading up on perennials and became fascinated by the way that different perennials show their blooms at different times during the season. Yes, that makes it more difficult to plan the garden. Unlike annuals, which you can count on all season long for strong, bright, lush blooms (as well as for certain death once the first frost hits), many perennials have short-lived blooming seasons. Thus, daffodils appear at the first sign of spring and are gone before Mother's Day.





But there is a definite upside. Plant daffodil bulbs in the fall and then forget about them. In early spring, they emerge, sunshine-colored, from the cold ground, like "Surprise! Bet you forgot about us!" And when they die back, as they do as spring chugs along, if you've done your perennial planting properly, another plant is waiting right beside its roots to emerge when it is its turn. Next to my front steps, where my daffodils are fading, a hydrangea is now beginning to emerge from its winter sleep.




Unfortunately, deer love hydrangeas. It wasn't my idea to plant a hydrangea in the front yard where the deer come out from the woods to browse and graze. The former owners of this house did it. I suppose it was an act of hope. A failed act of hope, of course, since I never saw one bloom last year: the deer nibbled every bud.




So far, in the shady part of my back yard garden, I've planted Columbine,


















Jacob's Ladder



















Foxglove


















and Bleeding Heart



spiraea










In the sunny part of the garden, I've planted a whole bunch of varieties of

lavender
















babies breath














salvia





















spiraea
















And now, I think I have to wait a bit to see what stops blooming when and then plant some other stuff in its place when that happens. For example, we already have about seven peonies , and they're all about to bloom. So, I actually planted some zinnia seeds around them



(yes, zinnias are annuals, but I had some seeds lying around from the brief moment of insanity when I decided I was going to grow annuals from seeds; the sweet peas and sunflowers are doing okay, but not much else) in the hopes that they will germinate, mature and bloom by the time the peonies fade.








So, why would anyone NOT want perennials?

Do I sound obsessed?

Did I skip practice today?

It was strictly a blip, that skip. I just needed a gardener's holiday.

YC

8 comments:

donutszenmom said...

Re: the hydrangea. The former owners may have planted them FOR the deer. I like to plant stuff that draws wildlife, and I'd definitely have hydrangea if I thought it would mean having deer come around.

Yoga Chickie said...

I like to attract hummingbirds, bumblebees and butterflies, as well as cardinals, blue jays and egrets. But deer are terrible pests around here, and we already have a herd of seven that lives in our woods. We think they are pretty but i don't want them roaming and grazing near my doorstep as they carry deer ticks, the ticks that cause lyme disease, and because they destroy gardens.

I love wildlife. I like to keep it wild. Not looking for a pet deer.

Stellata said...

The sad truth is, we are closing in on the "wild" land. Especially in the suburban NY area. There is really no wild left. No place for the native deer and bears and other animals to go anymore... :(

Carl said...

T'was but a blip, you quip,
But we're hip to your slip!
Some asana together you must whip
And don't give us any lip!

Yoga Chickie said...

Stellata - I am not sure what to make of your comment. I hope you didn't mean to point a finger at me and others in my community for setting up our homes in the midst of what used to be "the wild".

The truth is that my town is VERY conservation-minded: you can't travel even a MILE around here without running into acres and acres of official wildlife preserve. Cat Rocks, Westmoreland, Babcock, Cranberry, Huntwood, to name a few. And then there are the zoning restrictions on our individual properties alone. I have at least an acre of wetland that I am not allowed to so much as put a picket fence on without applying to a zoning board.

Turtles, bullfrogs, bass, sunfish, geese - they all live in my pond and graze on the wetlands around my pond. The geese that live on my pond and come back year after year to mate seem to be just fine with it. And the deer are fat and multiplying rapidly. They're doing just fine without my hydrangea.

Also, as to the encroachment of big, bad suburbia on the wild, let me just clarify that the zoning laws are very strict around my part of Westchester to prevent just that.

I believe you live in Connecticut, right? You should take a drive to the towns of Bedford and North Castle and start counting the houses and see how few there are per acre and start counting the nature preserves and starting counting how many there are. You'd be happily surprised.

Yoga Chickie said...

Oh, Carl. How very poetic of you. I put in my time today, yes.

Stellata said...

I'm not pointing fingers. I was just saying that keeping the "wild" separate from the "not wild" is more difficult now since we as humans have really over-populated this land. I wasn't saying anything negative about you personally or your community.

I'm not from CT and I've been to your area many many times... In fact, I lived in Westchester for 2 years. I know how lovely and green and spread out much of it is... I also know that things like expanding 287 and general growth does have an affect on displacing "wild" animals, and they may end up in your yard.

Don't take it personally, I don't think its your fault the deer have less places to go - I know growth happens, It just bums me out sometimes, and your comment made me think about that. I don't know why you think I am attacking you, your neighbors, and your "big bad suburbia" just because I think its sad that native animals have less wild land.

jordanmcclements said...

Thanks for using my daffodils photo.

I am glad you like it.

I would really appreciate it if you could add a link back to my web site as well (http://www.irishviews.com)?

If not, then no worries!

Thanks.

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

My photo
Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

Bygones

Ashtanga Blogs


Thanks for reading Yoga Chickie!