How gray can it be? Very gray. If you are a half-empty glass person, it’s a rainy, depressing day. However, if you are a half-full glass person, it’s a day for dreaming. As a gardener, I am always dreaming about what I can do to make the garden even better.

Maybe I need a ha-ha

Since the garden has been visited regularly in the past few weeks by two bucks, I’m dreaming about developing a strategy to discourage them. Two days ago, one of them decided a short browse wasn’t enough; he needed to spend part of the afternoon napping in the back corner. I have since closed the gate on the east side but the problem is there’s no way to keep them from walking up the driveway on the west side.

Chrysanthemum ‘J.C.Weigelan”, ‘Mei-Kyo’, ‘Will’s Wonderful’ – those that disappeared

Chrysanthemum ‘Penelope Pease’

Chrysanthemum ‘Gethsemane Moonlight’-pinterest

Chrysanthemum ‘Bronz Elegans’ and ‘Mei Kyo’

The plant catalogs have begun their onslaught so more dreaming will be in order. Part of the process of deciding what to order begins with deciding what needs to be removed. What hasn’t performed well? What died? Several of my old-fashioned mums seem to have disappeared. Shall I replace them? Although I love them, they bloom very late, some of them so late, like ‘Penelope Pease’, that this year, she budded but never bloomed because winter came too early. On the other hand, ‘Gethsemane Moonlight’ bloomed in late October/early November and was like a bright light. It’s still very young (only planted last year) but I look forward to seeing it spread. ‘Bronz Elegans’ and ‘Mei-Kyo’ have been long-time stalwarts in the back garden in front of my copper urn; the color echo is astonishing.

Monarda ‘On Parade’ and ‘Dark Ponticum’ in west bed

Earlier in the year, I feared that my Monarda was gone. I’ve had two, relatively mildew-free, ones, ‘On Parade’ and ‘Dark Ponticum’ that have bloomed prolifically. Just today, I was reading a blog from Angie Treadwell of Plants Nouveau. She was touting a new Monarda called Monarda Bee-You® Bee Happy™. This raspberry-red cultivar has brown centers, grows 3-4’ tall, and seems to be a pollinator magnet. Bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths keep coming back for more. Now I just have to figure out where to put it once I find it. Perhaps in the back garden.

In that nebulous place called the mind, we all know that gardens evolve but I’ve been resisting the notion that my east bed is no longer as sunny as it once was; in fact, the reality is that east bed is now quite shady. This means that I need to change my mindset. The Coreopsis that once thrived there is now struggling to stay alive so I’ve finally begun to search for dry shade plants that I don’t already have.

Trifolium rubens

I’ve been working on a lecture entitled “Nurturing Nature: Using Site-Specific Plants” that I’ll be giving to Master Gardeners in Lima in the middle of March. While immersed in the section on plants for heavy clay, I thought of my Trifolium rubens (Red Feather Clover), a little known but outstanding perennial. Unlike many of the clovers that have kudzu-like tendencies, this one is well-behaved. I actually wouldn’t mind having it spread a bit faster because it bloomed this year from June into September.

I wish all of you a very happy new year and happy dreams.