Bones - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice


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Salisbury, MD. "Bones", in gardening lingo, simply means the hardscape portion of the structure of your garden. This would include your trees, fences, ponds, fountains, decks, patios, pathways, shrubs sheds, barns and, yes, even your house. When viewed during the winter, the leaves of the deciduous trees are largely fallen and the bones are more clearly visible, reinforcing areas of particular pleasure as well as revealing areas in need of improvement.

The timing for this garden review is about to become nearly perfect. The leaves have fallen exposing the basic structure…..the bones, it's too cold to spend a lot of time outside, the pace will slow after Christmas and those marvelous gardening catalogs are beginning to arrive! In preparation for this annual evaluation, the Gardening Grannies suggest that you walk around your property and take pictures from all angles. With Thursday's snowfall, you will get a pristine look at your property. Inside, sit in your favorite spots and critique the outside view. It's amazing how, when warm and cozy in your special place with your favorite adult beverage, ideas for improvement begin to form. It could be as simple as adjusting the placement of bird feeders for maximum visibility. It may be as complex as a structural addition. Whatever it is, think "curb appeal" in addition to personal preferences. Pull out those old gardening books or go to the library and take out as many as they will let you. Rifle through that pile of old magazine or box of ideas ripped out of magazines. Jump on the computer and start surfing topics. Slip over to your favorite bookstore and see what is on sale. Granny Griffith found a 2009 edition of Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (707 pages worth of organic gardening wisdom from one of the masters), normally priced at $24.95 on a markdown table for a mere $4.99 at a Border's bookstore up in Lancaster, PA, weekend before last.

Think it's time you finally get that pond you always wanted? Or a special fountain? Perhaps a private seating area for your morning coffee or an evening drink with friends during more temperate weather? If you have children or grandchildren who are about to become toddlers, maybe you want to re-think the existence of toxic plants that may be currently in your yard. Perhaps a fun "teaching experience" is what you are looking for. If your garden was overwhelming last year, 2011 might be the time to downsize or implement labor saving techniques. Might the answer be to reduce the size of your garden and migrate to container plantings? Revise or add a drip irrigation system? Rain barrels? Hire a neighbor kid for some part time assistance? You're in a growth mode? How about putting in some raised beds for difficult areas? Consider moving some veggies into the flower beds this year. Add some grape vines or fruit trees. Learn more about companion planting. Get a real solution to the annoying critters that have created "issues" for which you have considered murder and the resulting fines and jail time.

Whatever you come up with, the Gardening Grannies encourage you to be considerate of what your neighbors might see as well as what you do see. That new compost pile might be out of sight from your perspective, but is it somewhere that will bring sadness to the hearts of your neighbors and their guests? Do you have sufficient privacy for that morning coffee spot where you and your attire might not be ready for public inspection? Is that pond you are visualizing what the insurers like to refer to as an "attractive nuisance" and will it meet zoning restrictions in your area? Equally important, will it give you and near-by parents of inquisitive toddlers cause for anxieties?

We'll take a look at some possible new projects to consider over the next few weeks. In the meantime, we hope you will write to us and let us know if there is a particular topic/subject you would like us to address.

Gardening Grannies, a mature group of avid and Master Gardeners, live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. We can be reached at and look forward to hearing from you.

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