Spring has arrived! Many of my garden perennials (planted last Spring) are surprising me with their size and vigor! Pulsatilla is the first to bloom. It looks all fragile and delicate with it’s soft ferny foliage and dramatic flowers, but it has zero problem with frosts or cold snaps once it springs forth in late March or early April. I’ve seen it nodding over, covered in frost. Then out comes the sun, and Pulsatilla acts like nothing ever happened!
Pulsatilla will continue blooming, if deadheaded, for a number of weeks. So charming!
Comfrey is another one of my favorite plants. I ordered this purple-flowering (fingers crossed) Comfrey from Horizon Herbs. It’s HUGE this spring and powering up for some serious bloom time. I am SO anticipating seeing those beautiful drooping flower clusters for the first time! Comfrey is such an amazing plant. It’s a nutrient accumulator, a medicinal herb, a beautiful garden specimen, and provides an almost unending source of foliage for making compost tea. I will be adding three more Comfrey plants to my new gardens this Spring.
Some of my other favorite plants:
I know – these aren’t blooming yet, but we can anticipate!!!! Below: Electric Blue Penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus) + Wisely Pink Sunrose = Oh Snap!!!! I will post again when they are in bloom. These plants look fabulous right now, which tells me I made good choices when deciding on their locations. The whole front garden is what I would consider well-draining soil that has been supplemented with rabbit, horse and goat manure, glacial rock dust and mycorrhizal inoculant. Once 9am rolls around, the entire front yard is full sun until quite late in the day, when it gets dappled sunlight until nightfall. A great exposure for sages, penstemons, iris, rugosa roses, elecampane, mints, echinacea, campanula and oregano!
I can’t say enough good things about Catmint. It blooms early and repeats with great enthusiasm when deadheaded promptly. Such a pretty color and texture! Bees adore it, which pushes Catmint to the top of my list of “must haves” for the full sun garden. It does reseed, but it reseeds into the cracks between garden and sidewalk and chokes out bindweed! And I LIKE plants that spread out and reseed when they are as charming and beautiful as Catmint! Grow some for the bees!
In the back yard, we find ourselves in the midst of building new large gardens that incorporate two permaculture features: swales and greywater! Yes, it’s a lot of work, but we love the idea of developing a sustainable, water-wise ecosystem that will provide a haven for pollinators and birds while also providing medicinal and nutritive herbs, berries, vegetables and greens for us! And a new learning experience! When it comes to organic permaculture gardening, we want to know about it! Here is what it looks like so far:
More on swales and greywater later on! The books I referenced for this project: Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds, both listed in the bibliography below.
Our “Permaculture Gardens” in the front are coming along nicely. Last year, we routed the grey water from our washing machine into the two raised garden beds in the front yard. We don’t use detergent any more – we switched to the Magnetic Laundry System. It really works! Our clothes get very clean with zero detergent.
Each time we do a load of laundry, the water from the washing machine is channeled into the two front raised beds. During the fall and winter, when plants are dormant, we flip a switch in the laundry room to redirect the water into the sewer.
The above garden area is shaded during part of each day during the summer due to a large Aspen tree. Around 2pm, the whole garden begins to receive hot afternoon sun. All of the above plants are super adaptable and pretty happy growing in both partial shade and hot afternoon sun. We keep this garden mulched quiet heavily. Celandine and St. Johnny seem to especially enjoy this location, as do the chocolate and lavender mints.
Further out in the front yard, we dug out a mulch basin to capture rain water from the roof. We packed the basin with wood mulch, and then continued the same mulch all throughout the garden. On top of that, we layered leaves during late fall and winter. All the plants are looking great!
Rugosas get quite large. Species roses can spread by root runners, so I planted them on the center “island” to keep them contained. They should each grow to 6′ tall x 4′ wide. Rosa rugosa rubra and alba, planted diagonally across from each other so they can each receive full sun, even when they are large shrubs. I’m growing these for the all-summer fragrant bloom and large tasty rose hips!
More about gardens as we move further into Spring!
Blessings to You and Your Gardens,
“Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture.” Toby Hemenway, tobyhemenway.com/book/gaias-garden/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.
Hartung, Tammi. Growing 101 Herbs That Heal: Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies. Pownal, VT, Storey Books, 2000.
Hemenway, Toby. Gaia’s Garden: a Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. White River Junction, Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 2009.
Hensel, Julius. Bread from Stones. A New and Rational System of Land Fertilization and Physical Regeneration. Philadelphia, PA, A.J. Tafel, 1894.
“How Chemical Fertilizers Are Destroying Your Body, The Soil, and Your Food.” How Chemical Fertilizers Are Destroying Your Body, The Soil, and Your Food, healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/100-how-chemical-fertilizers-are-destroying-your-body-the-soil-and-your-food.html. Accessed 11 Mar. 2015.
Lisle, Harvey. The Enlivened Rock Powders. Metairie, LA, Acres U.S.A., 1994.
Reynolds, Mary. “The Garden Awakening.” Bookdepository.com, GREEN BOOKS, 1 Oct. 2016, www.bookdepository.com/Garden-Awakening-Mary-Reynolds/9780857843135. Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.