Gardening With What You Have

Memoirs From My Garden; The Best Of 2020

Christine Froehlich 12/13/2020 Comments

Clusters of bubblegum pink flowers still cling to the rose bush in my front garden. It's not ready to give up yet. I'm not either, but winter is setting in and it's time for a final goodbye.


knockout rose


This is my farewell to this years garden. Inspired by a recent article in the New York Times inviting readers to send in six words describing what made them thankful in 2020, I couldn't resist reviewing mine in six word sentences.


Ups and downs, garden fencing flops.

New vegetable garden came together fast.

Kick ass tomatoes, beans and peas.

Daily harvests of vegetables and flowers. 

Never quit picking 'Benary's Giant' zinnias.

Knockout coleus rocked fall flower arrangements.

Endless feeding and coaxing,finally bloomed.

Last minute carrots,nothing is sweeter.

Year end treat,artemesia doesn't quit.

Always waiting for the next spring.


Ups and downs, garden fencing flops.


vegetable garden


My husband enclosed our vegetable garden with chicken wire to deter munching rabbits and groundhogs. I thought it looked ugly and decided to tart it up. See those posts laying on the ground? I filled the holes with soil and planted morning glory vines to cover the chicken wire. I thought I was being so smart. You can see the result below.


vine covered garden


 It looked like a cute little hobbit house from the outside,but was too much work to keep it in line. Unruly vines threatened to take over the lawn and ate up two containers by the gate. I was forced to whack vines out of my way to get in and out of the garden. Tripping over them was downright hazardous. Thumbs down on this idea.


New vegetable garden, came together fast.

I decided to grow more food in order to avoid the grocery store. That meant building another raised bed. The one below came together easily from repurposed wood I scrounged from a fence that was taken down.The Covid epidemic made it impossible to get a delivery of the soil I wanted, so I took a chance on ordering from an unknown source.Thankfully, it was not filled with junk and didn't produce a million weed seeds.


raised bed


I breathed a sigh of relief when it yielded a prolific crop of tomatoes, squash and zinnias. Not too bad for a first year vegetable garden.


vegetable garden


The tomato crop was outstanding; 'Big Boy,' 'Beefsteak,' 'Fourth Of July' and 'Supersweet 100'  were the talk of my neighborhood. I've grown fancier varieties, but these were so delicious,I'm going to stick with them.




If you've never grown broccolini,I urge you to give it a try. It's similar to broccoli,but it has a sweeter flavor. The small individual stems are tender, never stalky and terrific in stir frys! Broccolini produces all summer and into late fall. It's not a vegetable you're likely to find at a garden center,but it's easy to start from seed. I ordered mine from Park Seed and sowed them inside in early April. It's at the top of my list for next years order.




Daily harvests of vegetables and flowers. 

It was worth the extra work to grow more food. Bringing it inside was so satisfying.



vegetable harvest


Never quit picking 'Benary's Giant' zinnias.

Zinnias made my summer. This variety is a flower arrangers dream,long-lasting,long-stemmed (3-4') and resistant to powdery mildew. What more could you possibly want? They come in exotic colors like Benary's 'Salmon Rose' and 'Benary's Giant Purple,' two of my favorites. They're hard to find in garden centers but easy to grow from seed. Visit Select Seeds to order them.


Benary's 'Salmon Rose' and 'Benary's Giant Purple'


Knockout coleus rocked fall flower arrangements.

I never thought of using coleus in an arrangement,but one fall day I was in the garden searching for something interesting to pick,and noticed this one. Coleus 'Fishnet Gold' is a little treasure I scored on a trip to Good Earth Greenhouse. It's dynamic in containers and even better in a vase. Now that I know how well coleus perform in arrangements,I'll be planting more of them. They root in water,so you can turn them into houseplants later. A win win all the way.


Coleus 'Fishnet Gold,' Hydrangea 'Lady In Red', Spirea 'Ogon,' zinnias and salvias.


Endless feeding and coaxing, finally bloomed.

Perhaps it was unrelenting heat and dryness that caused this problem,but some of my annuals refused to bloom this summer. Thunbergia alata 'Sunny Susy Red Orange' and Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' were two that pushed my patience to the limit.


Thunbergia alata 'Sunny Susy Red Orange'

I fed and watered them all summer to no avail. They finally bloomed in late September. Did anyone else have this problem? I'll probably plant both again,but not in such a prominent place. They were supposed to be the stars of the patio containers,in that respect they were a dud.


Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'


Last minute carrots, nothing is sweeter.

There's nothing more delicious than a freshly picked carrot. Alas, I've had zero luck with them as they prefer a rich, moisture retentive soil and mine is dry and lean. As an experiment, I sowed seeds in several large black plastic nursery pots in late August. 


It was easier to remember to water them in the pots. Carrots dry out fast because seeds are only sown a quarter of an inch deep. Germination takes 14 days,if the seeds dry out you're cooked. Good soil is an essential ingredient for flavorful carrots. I used one of my favorite mixes, Bumper Crop, but any rich, friable compost and soil mix will suffice.




If you've struggled with carrots,or any other root crop, give this method a shot. I wish I had planted more and thought of it before August. More to come next year.


Year end treat, artemesia doesn't quit.

I spotted Artemesia 'Parfum d'Ethiopia' on an end-of-summer sale table at a local garden center. Attracted by the feathery silver foliage,I purchased three and promptly plunked them into a big hole  in my front border. That dark green and gray contrast was a happy accident I plan to repeat. 




This tough little annual is just the right size (about 20") for the front of a bed. It soldiers on through drought and doesn't blink at freezing temperatures. It's still hanging in there with the rose as I write this.


Artemesia 'Parfum d'Ethiopia'


Always waiting for the next spring.

That's it in a nutshell. The quest for the right plant, plotting my next project and even bemoaning the failures has kept me going in a year without much good news.


Did you have a memorable plant or anything else that brought you joy this year? I'd love to hear about it, please share!


















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