In the deep snow and cold of winter, I do the annual garden planning ritual – worship at the Canada Blooms show, read the gardening magazines, and make lists from the seed catalogues. Then I open my garden notebook and start sketching my garden – front and back of the house – adding names of plants marked in the catalogues and magazines. However, in spring and summer, I look at the actual garden, and use my intuition to make my planting decisions. This past year I purchased no perennials and only a few annuals because things just seem to happen serendipitously in my garden.
When the snow melts, but before the air and earth are warm enough to dig in, I’m outside, looking in awe at the flowers poking up from the ground – the icicle pansies I planted late last fall on a whim. Crocuses, tulips and hyacinths soon follow, but they show up in unexpected places. In fall I am too busy to draw diagrams of the bulbs’ location because they don’t necessarily stay put. Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel and all their cousins play “musical bulbs.”
As the seasons unfold, the plant serendipities continue. Some plants pop up from spreading seeds – silver pennies, yarrow (including a clump in my front lawn and another clump between patio slabs), and lamb’s ears. One year an anonymous neighbour planted a chrysanthemum in the front. So far, this chrysanthemum keeps returning and yellow flowers bloom in late fall.
I’m expanding my garden gradually – the front will one day be no grass and each fall and spring I dig up a little more grass, add topsoil – not necessarily according to my diagram. In the meantime, to crowd out the weeds in my lawn, (besides digging up dandelions) I scatter clover seeds. They can green the soil and are more colourful than grass.
The serendipity here is, not only does clover grow, but also a thick low ground cover that “arrived” with a clump of donated lily-of-the valley. The ground cover just spread where I needed it, with no help from me. When it starts to encroach on an actual flower bed, it is easy to yank out part of it.
I use a combination of intuition, colour schemes, plant type, plant texture, blooming time, and plant gifts for my gardening decisions. So, spring and fall, I divide, dig and move plants. Consciously I never know how it will actually turn out, but I know my garden knows best.