A goal this year was to streamline and simplify the management of the garden at the tasting room. We transitioned most of the beds to perennials from annuals. Previously, we had to propagate and plant this garden twice a year with annual vegetables and flowers. Twice a year, in December and July, seed needed ordering, sowing, transplanting and then tending. As soon as the garden matured in July, it had about six-eight weeks of looking fantastic before the plantings began declining. This needed careful observation and timing to get the new seedlings ready as the beds became open. For this fall garden, we generally would begin planting in August and finish in early October.
In spring eight-weeks before planting, seed needed starting. The greenhouses were always filled to over flowing, and each week I had to make on the spot decisions about what to plant together in one bed- based on what was ready that week and what would go well together in appearance, form, size and longevity. This was the crucial element. Tall plants had to go with other tall plants, and medium or short plants with the same. Plants that needed frequent intervention like chard- to remove the leaf miner leaves, needed siting at the edge of beds so this could easily happen.
Toward making the garden more efficient to care for- we perennialized all but the triangle beds. My main worry was that spring and early summer would look fantastic, and then a big decline would begin and by late July and August, the garden would begin to brown and whither. Not so, and the garden continued brilliantly until November.
If a few words could describe the 2016 summer garden they would be: the sun has landed. Now predominantly perennial, the garden has been on fire since May. The glowing embers of apricot, orange, smoky orange, clear yellow, pale yellow, wine, deep purple, sulky purple, violet, and sizzling raspberry have held court around the tasting room for months. Wine tasters have basked in and been uplifted by a magical haze of color that envelops them and dominates all. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees have populated the garden in more numbers than ever before and created an inspirational scene for all visitors.
The terrace has become a major hummingbird and butterfly watching zone with the Salvia Leucantha and the dwarf butterfly bushes. The formerly quiet area is now more like Starwars battle zone with many hummingbirds chasing each other around.