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Garden Resolutions


Starting seeds under a grow light

A new year means new garden projects!

First on my list is to have a glorious early-season flower garden. I plan to achieve this with cool season flowers that I will grow from seed. I should have planted the seeds outside last October, but I didn’t get it done. The next best thing is to start them inside in winter for transplant outside in mid-February (there should be a disclaimer somewhere in here, weather pending, you know). There are a few things on my wish list, like Sweet William, for my cool season flower garden. I will try to find some seed in a great winter seed sale somewhere! Cool season annual seeds that I already have to sow:

Alyssum and Snapdragons planted in old-fashioned wheelbarrow

Alyssum and Snapdragons planted in old-fashioned wheelbarrow

  • violas
  • sweet peas
  • snapdragons
  • alyssum
  • bells of Ireland

I plan to start these seeds inside under grow lights in early January. I’ll follow the steps outlined in UGA’s seed-starting publication here.  The seedlings should have a sufficient root system to plant outside in mid-February (remember disclaimer noted above).


Stachys bizantina ‘Helen Von Stein’ (Lambs’ Ear)

My second garden resolution is to reorganize my mailbox garden. This space is easy for me to maintain and gives me daily delight as I leave and arrive at my home. It is small and manageable. It has a mixture of ornamental plants in it, including a small shrub for year-round interest, perennials for reoccurring color and texture, and space for annuals to provide a splash of color. I’d like to dig up the perennials, including Lambs’ Ear (Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’) and Coreopsis ‘Zagreb,’ and move them forward in the bed to allow room for some pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) I have acquired. I plan to tackle this project in early spring to take advantage of warming soils and spring rains. UGA’s publication on Flowering Perennials gives a lot of good information for this project.

Stump Garden, Spring 2014

Stump Garden, Spring 2014

I have a third garden resolution to add plants to my stump garden for a more water-wise approach. This bed is aptly named because it is dominated by a huge stump from a water oak (Quercus nigra). When the tree was removed several years ago, I designated the surrounding area for ornamental plantings. Growing and maintaining plants over the remaining root system was not going to be easy. I opted to create planting pockets and add perennials, annuals, and herbs each year. It is a challenging bed area to say the least. The soil is sandy, shallow, and laced with sizable decomposing roots. The entire bed area is in full, southwesterly sun. I have largely experimented with plant materials I had access to, such as Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’, daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’), and some Crocosmia shared with me by a Master Gardener Extension Volunteer many, many years ago. I have used annuals to fill in the gaps and provide extra color, but they require more water and continuous fertilization in this spot than I care to provide. So, this year’s work will include establishing additional plant selections suitable for the site that will fill in some of the gaps previously occupied by petunias and verbena.

Since my family grows a sizable vegetable garden each year, I keep my ornamental garden resolutions simple and realistic. Each task is enjoyable, reasonable in scope, and affordable. Planning out these projects now helps focus my research and shopping for new materials. Knowing what I need and where I will plant keeps me from buying impulsively when spring fever hits (not to say there won’t be any impulsive purchases!), and reduces the likely disappointment that comes from not being able to keep those extra plants alive until I get them installed!

What garden resolutions do you have this year? Do you resolve to plant a tree? Prune a hedge? Attend a gardening class? (don’t miss Extension classes offered near you — there’s a calendar at the bottom of our homepage). How about resolving to take one step toward making your garden an environmentally friendly place?

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About sdorn

Sheri is the State Coordinator for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program and Extension Specialist for Consumer Ornamentals. When she is not traveling about the state of Georgia admiring the work of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, she spends time in her own (real and virtual) gardens.