Small Goals for Big Jobs.

Cherry Tree leaves November '12

Cherry Tree leaves November ’12

You wouldn’t think that November would be a busy time in the garden, would you?  At least I didn’t used to think so.  I’m learning though, that I can get a great bit of work done in the winter months.  The Big Jobs for me include keeping the hedges neat and tidy, and laying out new garden beds.  My title is how I tackle a lot in life.  I have to take it a little at a time.  I think what helps me is that I’m a list person.  Before I go to bed I make a list of things I want to get done for the next day. It helps to keep me focused. With my garden, I add little goals to my list; things like “spend 30 minutes in the garden trimming hedges”.   A really good day is when I can squeeze in more time than I had on my list!  Trimming the hedges is easy enough when done over a number of days.  I’ve also done marathon trimming sessions, but the result is very sore arms from using the shears!  Much better to do smaller sessions.  🙂

Raking up some Cherry Tree leaves.

Raking up some Cherry Tree leaves.

This past weekend, my goal was to work on my center garden.  It is a mess!  I’ve been killing the grass with newspapers and cardboard since the summer time.  The center area has been cleared of grass and had manure added to it in September.  But the outside edges had more sod added to them late in the summer.  All of the sod hasn’t broken down yet, but I was able to work on one section by breaking up the soil with my hoe.  My plan is to have three circles – but I don’t have the entire area marked out yet.

The good, the bad, and the ugly... Center Garden as a work in progress.

The good, the bad, and the ugly… Center Garden as a work in progress.

The center garden was originally going to be an all white garden.  I planted a white lilac, a white tree peony, and a white Annabelle hydrangea.  The Annabelle promptly died on me!  (I should have prepared the soil first – lesson learned!) The other two plants are thankfully doing well.   The color scheme has already been altered, though. My father-in-law gave us two plants which were squished in his garden. The first one is bush-like and has yellow flowers in the summer. I’m not really a fan of this one. I haven’t even learned it’s name, but it is acting as a wind barrier for my tree peony!

Father-in-law plant...

Father-in-law plant (Per Flower expert friend Susan: a Potentilla) … Yeah, ok, it looks pretty here – but look at the photo above: it is a mass of brown dead looking branches!

The other Father-in-law plant, an evergreen called Pieris “Forest Flame”, I really like.  In the spring it’s new foliage is bright red, which gradually changes to pink, then cream, and ends in green.  I had my doubts about the chances of its survival when we planted it, but despite it’s odd shape, it did have lovely red foliage last spring, and is showing signs of life!

Forest Flame in the Spring.

Forest Flame in the Spring.

Forest Flame as a spring beauty.

Forest Flame as a spring beauty.

Forest Flame looking healthy in November '12.

Forest Flame looking healthy in November ’12.

I have a long list of flowers and plants I want in these three circles, so I really do need to finish the layout and get things going.

Center Garden after I broke up another section.

Center Garden after I worked the soil in another section.

I had a few more pieces of cardboard and some more newspapers, so I covered up another section.  My goal is to have the three circles completed by the end of the winter.

Back to being ugly again. Covering up with newspapers and cardboard.  At least I took

Back to being ugly again. Covering up with newspapers and cardboard.

I managed to get some sunny photos of the center garden.  But the sun was very hard to find earlier in the week.  I have to say that I think my photos are very sad looking with a dark gray sky.  But that’s all I have to show for my hard work!  I’m going to start by showing you all of the cuttings from the beech hedges. (It’s a lot by the way!) I’ll save these cuttings, and then chip them up to add into my compost.  That worked brilliantly this past summer. I’m usually short of brown material while I have so much grass to add in the summer months.

My pile of trimmings from the beech hedges!

My pile of trimmings from the beech hedges.

There was weeding underneath and cutting of the tops of the hedges this week.

There was weeding underneath and cutting of the tops of the hedges this week.

Do you see what I mean about the dark sky?  This was at 2 in the afternoon! I’m keeping the hedges level with the fence.  They still need to fill in quite a bit in sections.  My plan this winter is to buy a few more hedge plants to fill in the big gaps. But otherwise I’m perfectly happy to wait and watch as they slowly develop and fill in.

There are still a few more leaves left on the Cherry trees.

There are still a few more leaves left on the Cherry trees.

I have to add one more picture.  This is another gift plant from Susan: Sedum Autumn Joy.  The color has been so pretty all fall.

What are your goals this winter?

Sedum Autumn Joy.

Sedum Autumn Joy.

10 thoughts on “Small Goals for Big Jobs.

  1. Hi Dana! Your yellow flowering shrub from your father in law is actually a Potentilla. and guess what? They also come in white!!! i should lend you my small book of planting plans from Sissinghurst if you need suggestions on a collection of white flowers…and I think the ‘experts’ say if you are planting lots of white flowers together, remember to include silver foliage plants also. nice to hear someone is motivated to work outside at this time of the year; i’ve just stocked up on boxsets for the winter… 🙂

    • Hi Susan! Thank you for identifying the Potentilla. Since it is a good wind screen, I’ve decided to just add to the color scheme: White, Yellow, and Red (for the spring time red that the Forest Flame adds). Silver foliage plants sound lovely anywhere in the garden! But I’ll see about adding them, too, into my circles. Thank you! Enjoy your boxsets 🙂

  2. Your plants look good for this time of the year. Here in New Hampshire almost all the leaves are off the trees…the ones remaining are brown and ready to fall. Mulching all those leaves keeps me busy until everything is covered in snow. I like your idea of a list with just a little bit each day.

    • Hi Karen, yes the mild temperatures are evident especially at this time of year. I kinda wish the leaves would just fall off already, though, so I can rake them all up! But having said that, I don’t want to rush the colder weather… 🙂

      • No…don’t wish for it. It will be here before we know it. Actually with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s most people would say it is cold here now but I know it won’t be long before our highs will only be in the 20’s.

  3. Those cherry leaves are such a pretty colour Dana! My to do list is pretty relaxed as I spend Mon-Fri daylight hours at work and just hope that the weekends are fine enough to work in the garden. If the weather is good then it’s weed control, hedge trimming and bed preparation…. it the weather is bad then it’s housework and renovations. My life really is non-stop glamour LOL!!!

    • PJ Girl, I do appreciate the fact that I can spread out my garden work all week long. My hat is always off to working women! I think I like lists just so I can cross things off of them for that feeling of accomplishment! It might take a few days even, to get through a list. I tend to write lots of things down to keep track of them (I have a terrible memory!). I can relate to your glamorous life, and it is wonderful!

  4. Its lovely to see the progress you are making. Loving the colour of the beech hedges, but then as you know I’m biaised on that one 🙂
    A couple of great sayings – “little and often” and “small bites” seem appropriate, and to be honest looking at what you are achieveing is LOTS !! Congratulations, you are doing a brilliant job

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