Winter is the time for planning next year's garden, but as I plan I am anxious about what I can expect to see in the spring that survived the winter. For example, over the last few years I have been experimenting with primroses, and I want to continue to try more, but what will the fate be of the ones I planted last spring or even the spring before that? Many seem so vulnerable to any interruption in their ideal growing conditions that I always fear they will give up on me. If they go dormant in the late summer, as several do, I wonder, will they be back?
At work (Kingwood Center) I planted a hundred or so bare root Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart). I finally got around to planting them long after I wanted to because it was such a wet spring. In the end I practically pushed the bare roots into the mud. Amazingly they grew, but will they be back again this year?
Perhaps the biggest mystery is with my rock garden. Many of the plants I try among the rocks are said to be intolerant of winter-wet. Short of putting a roof over them in the winter (which is apparently often done by some very serious rock gardeners), I can only hope I have selected a sufficiently well drained site for my winter-wet sensitive plants.
Typically in gardening there are annual windows of opportunity (sometimes semiannual), and if the window is missed a year is lost. I often tell myself in August that I am going to reorganize a particular garden in the spring. Spring comes and goes, and I gnash my teeth the next year looking at the same problems I meant to fix. This problem is exacerbated when it is not certain even what plants to expect to be extant. Do I order plants for areas that may already be fully planted?
Part of the answer is to be a bit reckless. Cautious gardening doesn't work well on many levels and waiting to be sure will lead to overly modest or no action.
So as I sit hear thinking and writing I am convincing myself to charge ahead. Order more primroses; buy more plants for the rock garden; expect the bleeding heart to thrive. Time is more valuable than the cost of a few redundant plants.