If I’m to have any chance of doing all I hope to do in the garden in 2020, I need to do more than set goals. I need to plan and schedule, something I’m not terribly good at. Plus it’s likely that other projects will come up unexpectedly. So I won’t know for sure until this time next year whether I’m successful. But for now, these are my plans for the year ahead.
1. Finish renovating the China Terrace. We started work at the China Terrace in late summer last year when we replaced the old room dividers with new bricks. Now I need to re-do the top of the dining room table. Over the years the plates have shattered and too many bits and pieces have lifted out of the cement tabletop. I also need to re-make the wooden goblets.
The plates on the table are the ones we used every day when our children were young. I have found four replacement plates on line and need to find four more. Using those same plates is important to me: they link the history of our family with the history of the old Glen Villa Inn, whose foundation wall we rebuilt in 2019.
2. Design the area around the re-built hotel foundation wall. Deciding on the design for the area in front of the hotel wall is my second goal. I’m considering three different possibilities: semi-circular beds stuffed with shrubs and perennials, a contemporary asymmetrical design and (my current favourite) a design based on a circle within a square, an Asian concept of that represents the universe. Doing this would involve adding planting beds with straight lines to form an incomplete square with the hotel foundation wall as one side of the square. I’m considering using lots of ornamental grasses and a selection of indigenous plants to attract pollinators.
3. Replace the Italian poplars on the berm by the Skating Pond. We chose the trees originally because they grew quickly, and that was a good thing when the area was young, but it is a good idea no longer. Over the years we’ve topped some and kneecapped others, killing some and removing the dead ones. But those that remain keep growing and throwing the area out of balance. I’m considering replacing them with crabapples and adding some other tree with bright green leaves.
4, Design and construct a fence for the Lower Garden. Despite the plants I’ve chosen (supposedly deer-proof) and regular anti-deer spraying, the beautifully destructive creatures remain a major problem. A fence really is the one sure-fire protection against them. Plus a fence would allow for more flexibility in the choice of plants. But the Lower Garden is a large area with multiple entry points, all of which will need gates or some other inventive solution.
I’ve considered fencing the Lower Garden for several years now but have never found a solution that satisfies me. Will I succeed this year? Somehow I doubt it. I’m keeping it on the list nonetheless.
5. Redesign the Sundial Clearing. The Sundial Clearing is part of Timelines, the 3 km trail that explores questions about time, memory and our relationship with the land. The big pine tree that served as the gnomon came crashing down this fall and this loss gives me the opportunity to re-think the area as a whole. I plan to replace the black tubing that defines the perimeter of the clearing with some other material. I’m still searching mentally for the gnomon. I like the idea of using a sculpted rock — its solid immobility offers an interesting contrast to the movement of its shadow that marks the hours.
6. Extend Timelines to include the glacial rock. Will this year be the year when I extend Timelines to include the natural feature that inspired the project in the first place? In 2013 we cleared an area to expose this massive rock and I fully intended then for the trail to pass by it. But I continue to struggle with what I want to do there. Perhaps in 2020 I will be calm and quiet enough to hear what the land suggests.
My one resolution for 2020 is to photograph a single area of the garden once a month from the same point of view, as close as possible to the same date. I started today with a photograph of the Cascade, now covered in snow and ice.
What are your garden goals for 2020? Have you made any garden resolutions? How likely is it that you will keep them?