January 01, 2013

The best and the worst of 2012

In the spirit of celebrating the transition to a new year, here's a quick look at some of the "best" and "worst" performers in my garden during 2012, along with a few other categories:

Most fleeting
bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

Big deal, you say? Bloodroot is nearly always one of the most fleeting spring ephemerals in any garden. True, but this year the Bloodroot bloomed for about one day (and about a month early) so my camera missed it. The photo here is from 2011. Usually Bloodroot blooms in April for at least a couple of days.

Never fails
cosmos
Cosmos bipinnatus

The delicate, but surprisingly sturdy Cosmos is native to Mexico. In my garden, it's an annual that I must plant from seed or seedling plants. I miss it in the years when I don't plant it. And when I do, it never fails to produce spectacular blooms, no matter what the summer temperatures, precipitation, or soil quality.

Best performer
rudbeckia
Rudbeckia hirta

I know from reading other garden blogs that Black-Eyed Susan is a reliable native for most U.S. gardeners, even during drought years. Mine seemed especially prolific and healthy this year--maybe because I watered regularly while drought and heat kept the leaf spot in check.

Surprising display
roses
Mystery Rose

I have no idea what type of Rose this is--maybe a double Rosa rugosa variety? These Roses were well-established when we moved here. In past years, they've been prone to foliar insect damage, and since I don't use systemic insecticide, the plants usually look pretty ragged by the end of June, when I clip them by half their new growth. I've been planning to dig them out and replace them with a less insect-prone variety. But this year they surprised me with incredible blooms in June and again in September. Hmmm...this will now be a tough decision.

Most difficult to re-establish
clematis
Clematis 'Nelly Moser'

I am sad to report that despite my continued attempts to re-establish Clematis plants on two south-facing trellises, they are not behaving. This is what they looked like several years ago--before I pruned them too severely. Remnants of the plants always reappear in early spring, but they never grow larger than a few inches--probably because of the dense shade from the Oak trees. If I could just get them to grow a couple of feet tall before the trees leaf out, maybe they would stand a chance. They were so stunning I can't give up on them!

Most disappointing
betterboy
Solanum lycopersicum 'Better Boy'

Definitely not a good year for Tomatoes of any variety here in my neighborhood. No rain for two months straight will do that. Even though I watered my vegetable garden, it wasn't the same as continuous good soaking rains from summer lightening storms. Still, I ate my last Tomatoes--picked green in October--in November! Unheard of in a normal year in this USDA zone 5 garden! In every other year, Better Boys have produced plentiful, lush, tasty Tomatoes. They'll have a place in my 2013 garden for sure.

Most pampered
driedhydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla

What a cry-baby! Nearly every night when I came home from work this summer, my Hydrangeas were droopy and seemingly dying in the heat and drought. Even after soaking them with water, they struggled to survive. Someone mentioned they probably would have simply gone dormant if I hadn't watered them. But I'm a softy, and after all that tender care I now have some beautiful dried blooms to show for it.

New favorite
hyacinthbean
Lablab purpureus

I won't spend a lot of time here talking about my new fascination with Hyacinth Bean vine because I'm afraid I'd bore you. But it's the perfect plant for my arbor because of its fascinating foliage, dainty lavender flowers, and unique burgundy seed pods. I planted the vines from seed, and I saved some seeds to plant this spring.

Prettiest bloom not in my garden
magnolia
Magnolia stellata

Just a few blocks from my house are a pair of Star Magnolias. Every year in late autumn, the fuzzy, plump buds fascinate me. And every spring they burst, nearly overnight, with the first mild weather. Nearly a month earlier than usual--in mid-March 2012--I captured them in various stages of unfurling. When I look back at those photos, I get so excited for spring!

What's in store for 2013? Who knows? But it surely will be filled with more joys, disappointments, and surprises. Here's to another year of gardening! Cheers!

(I'm linking in with Bumble Lush's "Best and Worst" meme. Check it out!)

43 comments:

  1. Nature has thrown a few curves at our tomatoes since moving here. Strangely though, we had a more 'normal' summer, and a surprisingly good harvest, when so many areas were suffering from drought this year. After two years of bitterly disappointing harvests though, I understand how frustrating it can be when they don't produce as expected. Hopefully 2013 will bring more predictable weather, and better harvests all around. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to you hear you had a normal summer. I'm hoping that will happen for us this year. Generally, our summers are exceptional--just hot enough to make summer activities comfortable, and just rainy enough to keep everything green and growing. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead, too. Happy New Year!

      Delete
  2. I love how you categorized this. :o) After pulling out all my hydrangeas because they were getting fried by reflected heat, I found a dwarf variety that I'm sticking in a container in a partially shady spot. I will shamelessly pamper it like a diva. Anything for those flowers again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tammy. I was all excited about the Hydrangeas at the beginning of the summer because one of my two shrubs had huge, plentiful blooms. And then when it didn't get water while we were on vacation (and only from a hose for two months afterward), it drooped every day until the first big thunderstorm in August. I don't have the heart to get rid of them, but I'm hoping we have more precipitation this year.

      Delete
  3. You had so many beauties in your garden even if they didn't all behave! I planted a star magnolia this year and it is heavenly when it blooms. I have the hardest time with rudbeckia hirta. I would be thrilled if they looked as lush as yours. I am looking forward to an exciting year in our gardens this year. There is so much more to be explored! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karin! Ah, Magnolias of every variety are magnificent! I think the Star Magnolias are prettiest when they're just breaking bud--when the blooms look like pillows, and then similar to Roses or Camellias. They're definitely magical and close to my heart! I'll look forward to seeing your blog posts about your new Magnolia tree! I leave the Rudbeckia standing in the fall for the birds to eat the seeds, and to help re-seed for the next year. This was the best year, so far, for my Black-Eyed Susans. Happy New Year!

      Delete
  4. Cosmos always have a place in my garden, as well. They faithfully reseed and bloom all summer long, during the hottest of months. Now you feel my pain with hydrangeas. I only have a couple mopheads in the spot that gets the most water in my garden. I have plans to move a lacecap that I had to hand water last year. Last year I swore I would not drag a hose to baby a single plant, but I broke down for my 'Lady in Red' hydrangea. It will be moved soon so I won't have to baby it next year. And I totally understand your love of hyacinth bean vine. This is the vine I grow on my new arbors, and before that it grew on my gates. It is so easy and grows so fast from seed. I've wanted a Nelly Moser clematis for a while but I have never seen it in the nurseries down here and I won't pay the mail order price. It's probably happier up in your neck of the woods anyway. Happy gardening in 2013!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I do feel your pain. ;-) I was ready to give up on my Hydrangeas! And if I lived in Arizona, or Texas, or even Oklahoma, I probably would give up on them. But generally, in a normal year, they should thrive in this Wisconsin climate and zone. Oh well, we'll see... You are patient and wise to put your Hydrangeas in pots and special locations. I could talk on and on about Hyacinth Bean vine, but I'm afraid I would bore everyone to death!

      Delete
  5. I like how all the images were titled. It gave them a lot of meaning. I agree on most pampered. I have numerous hydrangea that let me know they are hot and dry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Donna. These were the standout "bests" and "worsts" this growing season. But every year is different--which keeps things interesting, right?

      Delete
  6. Do you have a favorite? Like trying to pick a favorite child isn't it? It is fun to take a look back isn't it? Love the all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, great question! I probably have a favorite of every type of plant, but you're right--picking an all-time favorite plant is like picking a favorite child, which is impossible. Yes, it is great fun to look back. I loved your post prepared in a similar way, Layanee.

      Delete
    2. Why thank you. That garden is a memory but next year's flowers are perfection. In my mind anyway.

      Delete
  7. I really enjoyed your beauties! I do love Clematis too and I have two, growing in large pots: "Jackmanii" and "Warszawska nike". A very very happy new year to you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dona! I think I am going to have to plant new, very large Clematis plants early in the season--to give them a head start before the Oak leaves pop out. Stay tuned! Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  8. The comment about your cry-baby hydrangeas made me laugh out loud! I was so annoyed with mine that I didn't even mention them. Your blooms were so beautiful last year. I like the cosmos, it's nice to have a reliable plant that does well in undesirable conditions and is also very pretty. Great recap, thanks for participating! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tee hee. That's really what it felt like! I'm thinking, "Jeepers I've worked hard all day, and now I have to haul water around for you again!" But they survived and gave me some pretty blooms to preserve. Thanks again for hosting the meme!

      Delete
  9. I enjoyed your look back at the best and worst of 2012, Beth; seeing these lovely blooms is especially a treat on this cold and frosty day. It was a bad year for my tomatoes, too; no wilt, but when the rains finally came in August, most of them cracked before they were fully ripe. I share your infatuation with cosmos and hyacinth bean vine--I think both will always have a place in my garden, too.

    Thanks for adding me to the "Lessons Learned" post; I really didn't expect you to--I started my post in early December, but the holidays seemed to give me writers' block:) Wishing you a very Happy New Year and lots of "bests" in the garden this coming year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rose. I missed the plentiful Tomatoes this year! Our family always gets a CSA share, so we had plenty of Tomatoes from that source. But there's nothing like picking a ripe Tomato from your own garden! I had a few--but the harvest was pitiful. Yes, of course, on the meme! Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  10. Wow, I had to agree with a number of your choices! My tomatoes were awful, the hydrangeas wilted, and bloodroot? Maybe I will see it bloom this year! I also was enamored of the hyacinth bean, but it loved my climate too much and began sprouting all over the place. Sadly, I had to relegate it to weed status.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see how Hyacinth Bean could get out of hand on a large trellis in a warmer climate. I think our cold winters (and the drought last summer) will keep it in check. But we shall see next summer! Yeah, too bad about the Tomatoes. But there's always this year! All the best to you in the months ahead!

      Delete
  11. I like how you labeled your plants into these different categories! "Most fleeting" is always so disappointing. Why can't they stay around for a little while longer? "Never fails" got my attention. Who wouldn't want a plant that never fails? I liked your take on hydrangeas, too. Yes, they can be pampered princesses. And I love your hyacinth bean vine. I have never grown it, but may have to give it a try some time. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't even know I had Bloodroot growing in the woods behind my house until a couple of years ago. The bloom time is so very short. And we had 80-degree highs when they first appeared, so they popped up and were dormant in the span of about three days! Thanks, Holley! Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  12. What a year you have had, Beth! I like the way you have categorised your best and worst. The drought was tough in 2012, so I have heard, I hope we all can have a more ‘normal’ year in 2013 – no more extreme weather records broken!
    All the best for 2013!
    Take care, Helene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was unusual! And yours was strange, too, wasn't it? So much rain that we could have used here. I hope you're enjoying your quieter winter months--even though you have blooms every month of the year. (Lucky you!) Cheers!

      Delete
  13. I have trouble with cosmos. I get lots of green growth but few flowers, especially the white ones. I like your picks, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I plant several rows of Cosmos when I include them in my garden. Some of the plants behave as you describe, while others have prolific blooms. I'm not sure why that happens? I'll have to do some research...

      Delete
  14. My bloodroot usually lasts for about a week but this year due to the cold, wet April they bloomed for over a month...and my clematis started growing in March and then flowered in May...I have put mine in sun with other plants covering their feet....I would say you might have to move them to give them more sun...let's see if we can get a good weather year for our gardens!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, a month is unheard of for Bloodroot! Weird year--our spring (or should I say summer?) here in Wisconsin started in March. By April, Bloodroot was long gone. I'm afraid you're right, Donna: I think I'm going to have to move the Clematis plants. Looking forward to comparing notes again during the upcoming growing season!

      Delete
  15. Happy to find your blog today. I'm from Helene. Your photos are beautiful! Of course, I'm following you:) Wish you a Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm heading over to visit your blog. Happy New Year to you, too!

      Delete
  16. The last 2012 was successful for your garden, many wonderful blooming. I love your Clematis 'Nelly Moser', and I want to grow more clematises in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like we have very similar winter conditions, although maybe your summers aren't quite so hot? Thanks for your kind comments, and I hope you have a wonderful 2013!

      Delete
  17. I agree that Cosmos bipinnatus is one of the stars of the summer garden. In 2011, I experimented with deadheading them, but I did not notice an appreciable difference in blooms between the deadheaded ones and the ones where I let the dried flowers remain on the plant. Plus the birds (goldfinches) relish the cosmos seeds and the ones that the birds drop or miss turned into self-sown seedlings last year. Even though I anticipate Cosmos volunteers next year, I'm still planning on sowing some new seeds ("Sensation" variety) just to make sure I have lots of Cosmos. Plus they seem to draw bees to the garden and I like to make the pollinators happy! :)

    Please do tell us all about your fascination with Dolichos lablab. I'm thinking about growing it someday. Floridata has a really interesting description of Hyacinth Bean - http://www.floridata.com/ref/d/doli_lab.cfm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't noticed much difference when I deadhead, either. I don't know why I don't plant Cosmos every year. It sure was a good year this year for them! I think they prefer hot, dry conditions--although they grow well during "normal" summers, too. I will check out that link--thanks! Here's a link to one of my posts about Hyacinth Bean vine: http://bit.ly/W8SZqM. Happy New Year, Aaron!

      Delete
  18. You don't bore me a bit with your hyacinth bean vine love! It's a favorite of mine too. This year I would take snips and bring them inside just to spread the love even more! I also used the seeds as little hostess gifts. I'd fold small envelopes using scrapbook paper and include some seeds with instructions for planting. I'm hoping even more friends will love them as much as we do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cat. I don't know if it's the exquisite color of the blooms, or the unique seedpods, or the foliage, or the vining growth pattern ... or everything altogether. But this plant is simply so much fun! Great idea to share with guests and friends!

      Delete
  19. Loved this post, and I completely agree with so many of your findings...

    I'm nuts over the hyacinth bean also, and this is the first year in a new hot climate that it's ever bloomed for me.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jen. Oh, I'm so glad it worked for you, too. I can't wait to grow it again in the spring! And I'll look forward to comparing notes with you.

      Delete
  20. Nice post on the best and the worst. I agree with many of your picks and have seen the hyancinth bean before at a nursery. They are gorgeous on an arbor or trellis especially by the end of the summer! The Star Magnolia is wonderful as well-wish the blooms would last longer on mine. You have some beautiful blooms in your garden...enjoyed the visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lee. Yes, Hyaciinth Bean vines are so fascinating later in the season when the flowers and the seedpods display at the same time. I hope to get mine planted earlier this year, so they'll have a chance to grow more.

      Delete
  21. Your comment about pampering your hydrangea made me chuckle, not least because we had so much rain that mine were more in danger of drowning that going dormant - oh, the trials of the gardener! Wonderful to know that one of your favourite plants is something you grew from seed. But perhaps it is time to replace those clematis with new, robust specimens? Just a thought, but then I am a rather ruthless gardener...

    ReplyDelete
  22. I used to only grow 'Better Boy' tomatoes (that's what my dad and granddad did) but then I did heirlooms more often than not. I'm sorry to hear it didn't do well for you -- I always found that variety performed even when everything else died. I think tomatoes varieties seem to have favorite regions they thrive in, and areas they hate. Plus, I guess none of them like drought.

    The past 2 years have been the worst for tomatoes I've ever experienced. I was thinking about switching back to 'Better Boy' and skipping the hybrids this year, but maybe it won't help.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)