However, it is "only" January. There's still time before the full bustle of spring (and the re-emergence of every warm-weather pest), but the dilly-dallying must end! Now is the time for action!
So, to get the new gardening year started right, I took the camera out for an end-of-January "garden survey" photo expedition. There aren't any beauty shots in this mix. Spring leaves haven't unfurled. The areas I've recently started mulching have piles of straw and leaves still waiting to be spread out pleasingly. Garden hoses and random pieces of "gardener's debris" are lying here, there, and everywhere. It looks a bit untidy, in fact. Just half an hour or so spent moving a few things around would make an improvement, though. If nothing else, I think that is do-able before the next monthly garden survey rolls around.
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Looking up to the new sitting area.
The green adirondack chairs are new. They're pretty comfortable for just sitting out and relaxing, though they might be even better with a cushion-- particularly for the back of your head. Because of the angle at which you sit, with your whole torso leaned back, it's not an ideal chair for doing anything much in. You might manage to read, but that's about it. (g) (This was my first experience with this type of chair, common though it is.)
Outside the fence, looking through the main gate.
We still need to put "retaining wall"-type blocks around the bald cypress and finish spreading the gravel in this area.
...And when we finally tackle the garage more seriously (so far we've only started tidying the workbench), there are a few things outside the garage that also need to be dealt with.
As you can see, we haven't worked on the fence at all. At this point, I doubt we'll get around to that this winter. The higher priority has to be cleaning and repainting the patio cover. (We did work on the structural problems with the cover, so at least it should be safe again.)
Back inside the yard, on the other side of the new sitting area.
I still haven't done much in this new flower bed. If nothing else, I have to mulch it. That's no small task, either!
Similarly, we haven't taken out those diseased shrubs from the front. (Clearly, I wasn't joking about not having done much gardening, recently...)
The shade garden looks sad and empty in winter, with all the gingers in hibernation.
Looking back down the gravel path. Everything looks so empty in winter! I suppose that's why many people insist on a backbone of evergreens.
Further down the path...
I plan to prune several rose bushes, so I'd better get cracking! I always dread pruning roses. It's intimidating-- and there are thorns-- and I've resolved to be careful about cleaning the pruners as often as possible, which will take longer and just be another thing to remember/worry about.
I know this has been a mild winter for our area (among many others), but we have had a few cold nights-- including some 20s-- and yet some of the blanket flowers were still blooming when I finally cut them back in late January (to get them out of the way so we can eventually finish the last bit of gravel path). The flowers were smaller and much fewer than they were in, say, September, but they were most definitely still there. Amazing!
Another plant that stayed green and tried its darnedest to bloom even in January was achillea (yarrow). Some of the seed-grown ones still have a pink tint to the blooms, by the way. The all-white ones, I've decided to move out of my main flower beds. Mom gave me a few starts from her garden, last spring, and they've done well. One clump did a little too well. It had expanded so much in one year that I was alarmed and decided that it had to move, lest it choke out the more timid plants. I was surprised to find, when I dug it out, that it had made a solid mat. The roots don't go deep, but they are solid. I've dispersed them to a few different, less "maintained" areas of the yard. If they get unruly in those spots, I don't think it will matter so much. There's not much nearby that they can overpower, and the lawnmower can check their progress if they make a real run for it.
I've been thinking about what to do in this circular gravel/river rock bed. I'm still not positive how it'll end up, but I'll try to get something in there, this year, even if it's just a temporary solution.
From the corner of the garage, looking back.
In front of the back porch. (Please ignore the thrown-together, make-do platform bird-feeders.)
I've yet to resume dividing and transplanting monkey grass since last time. There's a lot of work ahead on that front.
On the other hand, we did put down the pavers to create a sunny patio extension of the back porch. The new pavers are very visibly distinguishable from the old ones we already had, but I think they'll age and blend in, before long.
The sand has washed over part of the patio, so I'll need to sweep that off and do something to keep it from washing back (mainly an issue on exceptionally rainy days).
It's not much to look at, right now, but with some planting-- and maybe a flower pot here or there-- I think this area will be nice enough by summer.
It's already an improvement over what it looked like before. The grass never grew well here, so it was just a smattering of weeds scattered over bare, sandy soil.
A peek through the south-facing garage window where I'm overwintering some plants and cuttings. Some of the Salvia purpurea and "piñata lavender" cuttings have even been blooming! I'm not sure that's such a good thing. Maybe they're wasting energy on those flowers. We'll see if they survive until spring.
Looking back at the bulk of the flower garden.
Here's the last section of path we need to dig out and gravel. (There's also an area right against the north wall of the house that needs attention, but that might have to wait longer.)
And that takes us back to where we started.
I see plenty of projects to keep me busy for months to come. (And that's not even counting starting seeds, putting in that new drip irrigation I have planned for the shade garden-- and the vegetable beds...)