MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDENSCanary Wings, a variety of new angel wing begonias, has chartreuse leaves with drak red flowers that contrast beautifully and will cascade gracefully while developing enough height to be a wonderful focal point.

Is there a difference between resolutions and plans? I’m thinking that resolutions are made to start a new year, then quickly abandoned. Plans are made whenever I like, generally when there is something specific I want to accomplish. The winter solstice, which is occurring on the day I am writing this, is another reflective event in some cultures which can include planning for the new season.

Winter solstice is a traditional time to plants seeds for some gardeners. Wintersowers who sew perennial seeds in winter for spring germination may put in their first seeds on this date. Usually these are planted in recycled containers, then place outdoors, or in a sunny window of an of heated garage. The container serves as a mini greenhouse, enabling earlier growth.

I have been gradually making plans for my gardens in the upcoming year. I don’t keep a garden journal, but I do keep a running document on my iPad noting ideas for future reference. My plan for the upcoming year is to put more of these tasks on my calendar. While the pandemic gave me more gardening time due to fewer other activities, I’m finding that I am forgetting some tasks that used to be almost automatic. Sigh, I’m not old, but getting older.

I already have plans for my two big pots out front: one in part-shade near my front door, and the other in mostly sun, where the front sidewalk meets the driveway. I love the new angel wing begonias, there are so many varieties! One that has received a lot of attention is Canary Wings. It has chartreuse leaves with dark red flowers that contrast beautifully. It will cascade gracefully while developing enough height to be a wonderful focal point.

I often use my large square container by the driveway as a mixed container, but a friend mentioned the Vista Series of Supertunias, and I think it’s time I try one. Bubblegum in bright pink they say can be seen for miles, but I might prefer one of the other shades being offered.

I also have plans to include more annuals in my big back border. I have a wide variety of plants in this bed, but definitely a gap in July. Last fall I dug out the blue star (amsonia) that was gradually encroaching on my other plants. I plant to start seeds for Cosmos and zinnias, which are pretty deer resistant, to fill this space. Once established, these plants often don’t need supplemental water. Their tall flowers are easily seen at a distance.

For insurance against deer damage, I will continue to use tomato cages placed horizontally on the ground, secured by a plant stake, to protect these annuals. These cages have been quite effective in reducing deer damage in my most vulnerable gardens. Deer are startled easily, and the fact that these objects jiggle with the slightest nudge I believe encourages the deer to move on. They are not easily seen at a distance.

Julie Brocklehurst-Woods has been a Master Gardener Volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County since 2002. She enjoys helping all gardeners become successful gardeners, especially helping people identify tools and strategies to prioritize and simplify their gardening tasks. She will answer gardening questions by email: JulieBW48@gmail.com.

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