I have achieved it!
I win! I win!
What do I win?
A chance to keep digging in the dirt?
When I moved from the Midwest to the South, I was fascinated by winter pansies. I lived in apartments for many years as I finished up school and started teaching in Atlanta. But I filled pots with flowers and placed them on all the steps on the way up to my home.
Then I got a yard. And I thought monkey grass was great. Pine straw was odd, but it worked for areas that were too shady for grass. I put daffodils by my mailbox and they bloomed in February. I fell in love with southern gardening.
Now I have a Grown-Up Garden. We bought the house with great landscaping already in place, so I can't take credit for the good bones. But, just like the thrill at getting to paint your bedroom whatever color you want as a new home owner, putting in plants is wonderful when you first begin.
I bought a book called The Twelve Month Garden. (I can't find it, so I can't credit the author. Sorry. Did anyone borrow it from me?) Twelve months of blooms. I had a goal. And, in my opinion, those lovely winter pansies don't quite count. No, I wanted twelve months of perennial flowers.
And I've got it. Finally!
I cultivated a great spring garden (easy almost anywhere) and then I aimed for summer. The heat, drought and humidity are hard to work with. May purple coneflowers live forever!
I learned about Lenten Roses when I found one languishing under some bushes. I moved it by the back door and it began to bloom in earnest late that next January. A camellia by the house offered more winter color and a daphne followed soon after. I had a winter garden without really trying.
Fall began with chrysanthemums. Then I learned about asters. Then I got better chrysanthemums which returned each year and lasted until the first frost (late November usually).
And then I'd put in pansies to cover until the winter blooms came around. I pretended that I had my twelve months of blooms. Plus, I had holly berries and a Christmas tree to distract me. But I really wanted to have real perennial blooms, and to not rely on annuals. For this I needed a December bloomer.
Last fall I found Obedient Plant. I dug some from a neighbor and put them in my yard. I was cautioned that Obedient Plant does not really live up to its name. It spreads, and sometimes it seems to get out of control. I've carefully planted it between two driveways so there won't be too much spreading to be done. The area needs filling in, so a spreading plant -which can be controlled - sounds great. (Ask me in five years if this was a bad idea.)
The Obedient Plant was still blooming after Christmas. In fact, a night of temps in the twenties is what it took to finally stop the blooms. And by the time it gave up, the winter blooms were showing.
I've got it. A Twelve Month Garden!
Twelve months (just the leaders are mentioned here).
January: Lenten Roses, Camellias
February: Flowering Quince, Forsythia, Crocus
March: all manner of bulbs
April: Lady Banks Rose, Azaleas
May: Azaleas and Roses
June: Daylilies, Hydrangeas and Lots of Flowering Plants
July: Sunflowers, Daisies and Lots of Variety
October: Chrysanthemums, Asters
December: Obedient Plant