In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
January, 2012
Regional Report

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For a nice accent, try Japanese anemones as a backdrop to a picket fence.

A New Season for Lower Maintenance

With the start of a new year, now is a good time to evaluate the landscape and decide if changes are in order. I'm resolved to make my gardening easier and more low maintenance. As much I as enjoy the therapy of weeding, mulching, and watering my landscape, there comes a time when I would rather spend more time doing some other projects.

Fortunately, with the right planning, now is the time to create a pleasing landscape that requires lower maintenance. Seed and garden catalogs are arriving just about every other day. As I peruse some of my favorites, I'll glean ideas for some new perennials to try that won't need frequent dividing to thrive.

The new daffodils, tulips, butterfly weed, Lewis's flax, and daylilies I planted last fall will have a head start on the season. When spring arrives, I will make time to divide and transplant some of my favorite coneflowers, sedums and asters to fill in the voids. These additions will take the place of planting new annuals this year. Now I've made some extra time to paint the chicken coop.

My ornamental grasses did really well last year and provided a nice informal screen to the vegetable garden. I plan to add more this year since they are among the easiest to care for and most are drought tolerant. One of my favorites is 'Yaku Jima' maiden grass with its coarse and arching stems. For handsome seed heads, be sure to plant the cultivar 'Morning Light'. Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is a good companion to black-eyed Susans, tall sedums, and Japanese anemones.

One of my prized, late summer through autumn-flowering perennials is the Japanese anemone. Just as the garden is slowing down, the round buds open to reveal delicate pink blooms that sway gently in the breeze. Spring will be a good time to transplant plants that have spread into unwanted areas. If you have a wooden picket fence, try planting some Japanese anemones as a backdrop.

To cope with the problem deer and other unwanted visitors to the garden, I'll be planting more natural repellents like sage, rosemary, and marigolds. These will add texture, color and fragrance to the landscape.

Armchair gardening in winter is not so bad. It is a good time to reflect on last year while gazing out the window. Jot down changes you would like to make. Think about ways to make the landscape lower-maintenance so you can free up time to do other projects that need attention or go fishing.

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