2014 was an odd year for me. I always felt a bit "off," gardening and otherwise. It may have been because Mark's mom died just before Christmas 2013 and much of this year was spent dealing with her estate. At the same time we were experiencing the winter that would not end, stuck indoors watching both long-lived and new shrubs and trees die. But looking back, much was accomplished in the garden and there was still a wonderful profusion blooming as soon as Spring arrived. And we made it through another year intact and in generally good health.
January: Flowers from Maxine's memorial brightened the house in the depth of winter.
February: I managed to keep Geraniums and orchids growing and blooming during the indoor season. Seeing this image reminds me that we sold this 19th C. Chinese chair at our garage sale last summer.
March: We had pros in to prune our massive Honey Locust tree before the garden got going for the season. Always a wonderful feeling to have a project like that done. Mark, however, had the unhappy job of removing most of the dead trees and shrubs that fell prey to the winter. You can see browned victims in this photo. You can read about them here.
April: At last Spring sprung with my double snowdrops outside the back door.
May: As the season progressed it was clear that the majority of perennials made it through the winter with no problems.
June: While I reworked the main perennial beds after dead trees and shrubs were removed, Mark began a building program that went on most of the summer. His first project was this covered gate on the east side of the house leading to the garden work area. It's officially known as the East Gate and will eventually have an unmatched partner on the west side.
July: This year we hit the milestone of twenty years of living and gardening at this house. We celebrated with friends and Mark finished more of the interior carpentry on the Tea House. He's hoping to wrap up this project in 2015.
August: The next step on the east side was re-working the dry stream that leads rain water down our sloping property to the street. We've always tried to solve these practical garden concerns with a design that maintains the look of the garden while doing its job.
September: When we put in our pond 20 years ago, we lined it with a double layer of rubber. With a project this big and expensive Mark wasn't taking any chances. It has worked well until this past summer. It appears to have a leak which allows water to collect between the two layers of rubber, creating what's called a "whale" — a giant bubble covering much of the pond. He spent the late summer pumping the water out from between the layers and trying to figure out a cure. Jury is still out on this one!
October: Suddenly we're hitting an age — along with the garden — where maintenance is becoming an issue. As a first step we're replacing some perennials with shrubs, creating larger swaths of the best groundcovers and getting rid of features whose enjoyment is outweighed by the work they need. Case in point is the moss garden which will be replaced with evergreen shrubs a la Jacques Wirtz. As is our wont, we cut out big cardboard circles to help us decide how many shrubs we want and where they will go.
November: Though we had plenty of cold and snow in November we still got lots done. We chopped and bundled up 11 bags of leaf mulch and collected an equal amount of white pine needles. Both will be put down in the spring: one to refresh the beds and the other for the paths. Mark also built a storage unit so we could keep our garden pots outdoors but protected in the winter.
December: Though I tend to assume December means snow, that isn't always the case. After two snowy winters, we had a big break this December: hardly any snow and pleasant temps. I can look out at the garden or even walk around it if I want; checking on how things are doing and making plans for Spring. All in all not a bad garden year and I am looking forward to seeing how all the new trees and shrubs do this coming year!