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Report From PIA – May 22

OK, not for all gardens, of course. I’m in love with perennials, shrubs and trees, not to mention houseplants, mosses, lichens and…well, you get the idea. But there are times when annuals are indeed the solution.

I have an area at the end of the driveway, just before the grape arbor, where I’ve planted a Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’. I’m crazy about this plant. There was lawn here when we bought the house, but I used the newspaper and mulch technique to smother it. Now I have an area of mulch, and I’m not sure what else I want to plant here.

Clearly annuals are the answer. They will provide color all summer, and cover up the rather ugly wood chips, but I’m not wedded to anything that I might regret later on. In the winter the plow dumps snow on this area, so shrubs might be a mistake because they’d get squashed. A friend suggested groundcover such as Vinca minor, but I’m not convinced.

There are times in our lives when planting something that will grow for a season, but no longer, is a good idea. If you’ve moved to a new area, for example, doing some volunteer work for a few months, or working at a job you regard as “good while I’m getting to know the area” might be wise.

Similarly, many who are unemployed take temporary jobs outside of their field because working at something is better than no work at all. Just because you’ve decided that a temporary job is expedient doesn’t mean that you’ll always be there.

Too often we think of our decisions as being “forever and ever” when we might be better served by thinking about “what’s good for the season.” What was short-term might become permanent, or we may move onto something else. In either case, a temporary planting can serve us well.

Here's how the area looked right after we laid the newspapers and mulch. Serviceable, but boring, right?

The catkins on this plant are stunning. It's kind of nice that there's nothing to distract from these elegant blooms in the early spring.

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