Roman god Janus using forward face
By Jimmy Williams
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:41 pm
The Messenger 01.31.12
January’s namesake, the Roman god Janus, is just about beyond looking back and is now using his second face to attempt to see into the future, that is, the remainder (11/12ths) of 2012.
His extrasensory perception into the future is no more accurate than mine or yours. All we have to go on is the past. Horrors May, as my Uncle Ernest used to say.
Taking the last five years as the “past” (relatively mimimal as five years is) we sure as shootin’ don’t want repeats of four of those years. Debilitating droughts were the highlight (lowlight, rather) of those four. My garden and yours will never repair some of the devastation the droughts brought, or, if we do, most of the result will be for some future generation to enjoy. We’ll be dead.
On that cheery note, we can, however, conjure up some kinds of ideas of our dreams and aspirations for 2012.
I will plant more shrubs and fewer herbaceous (annual or perennial) things. The former require, over a year’s period, far less maintenance (read that time and work).
Granted, shrubs do not offer the longer flowering time of blooming herbaceous plants. Nor do they gain stature and maturity as quickly.
At this late date I’ll trade all that off for the lower maintenance. I used to not mind the work — in fact, I enjoyed (some of) it. It is less fun than it once was and shrubs, once established, are pretty care-free, for the most part.
I will plant (relatively) more trees. The parenthetical “relatively” is taken advisedly. It will be “more” relative only to other plant categories in the current year. Most of my major tree planting came early on at our garden.
Trees, again, once established, are the most permanent of plantings, and, consequently, because of the efforts of years past, there simply isn’t as much place for them anymore.
So, I will plant some trees, but not more than I did in a 12-month period some 30 years or so ago. Besides, any trees I plant these days will be, ultimately, for somebody else, unless they bulldoze them down, which is a distinct possibility.
New gardens generally require more work, as basic things such as lawns, walks, garden structures and other hardscape are installed.
As the years wear on, maintenance is reduced, unless the foolish gardener (I am one) continues to expand the horizons of the garden, which, of course, requires more and more plants (and thus planting) to keep the monster well furnished.
Monsters (read Frankenstein), once created, are not gentle creatures, nor with anemic appetites. They devour more and more plants.
My most demanding construction work — the aforementioned walks, a gazebo, tool shed, potting shed, stone walls, fences, ornamental plinths, soil improvement, rock gardens, pools, hedges, etc. — went on in years past, and I harbor no more such ambitious shenanigans for the future.
Quitting is, however, for sissies, and I don’t intend to do it.
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One of these columns in early January touted 20 things in bloom on our place. Just a day or so later, I found several more, including the first crocus, a witch hazel, a little pink violet and winter aconites.
By now, there are others, but I won’t keep up the gloating.
I got a lot of comment on that column, mostly by people who accused me of lying. However, Linda McCadams didn’t accuse me of lying, but complimented me on my achievement. She did, however, inform me she beat me out on the first daffodil. She had one open outside in mid-December.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.