2011 New Year’s resolutions revisited

At the beginning of the year I described 11 gardening projects I wanted to tackle in 2011 (projects 1-5, projects 7-11). How did I do? Let’s take a look.

plus_green  1. Get more bamboo

While 2011 didn’t see any major bamboo additions to our own garden due to a serious lack of space, I got a few small divisions in trades with other collectors: Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis', Fargesia nitida and Phyllostachys kwangsiensis. The Fargesia nitida died due to gardener error (mine), but the Phyllostachys kwangsiensis is growing nicely. The Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' has tripled in size and is ready to go in the ground. I’m considering putting it in one of our two stock tanks in the back yard.

Our existing bamboos put on a lot of height this year, especially the three in front of our house, Bambusa oldhamii, Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ and Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’.

These three clumping bamboos have grown tremendously, considering they have been in the ground for less than two years

We also planted several bamboos at my in-laws in Mount Shasta (“Bamboo Garden North,” as they call it): Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ and Phyllostachys bambusoides in the spring and Chusquea culeou ‘Roja’ in the summer. I bought the ‘Roja’ when I visited Tradewinds Bamboo Nursery in Gold Beach, Oregon during our summer vacation.

Bamboos in my in-laws’ backyard

minus_red  2. Replace street-side hedge with bamboo

This project would have involved removing a dozen mock orange shrubs (Pittosporum tobira) planted along the street side of the backyard and replacing them with a row of clumping bamboos such as weaver’s bamboo (Bambusa textilis) or even giant clumping timber (Bambusa oldhamii). As you can see, it didn’t happen in 2011:

January 1, 2011
December 31, 2011

However, the idea isn’t entirely dead. It may happen in 2012 if we get serious about it. 

plus_green  3. Lay flagstone next to front porch

This project would have involved laying flagstone next to our front porch, an area that was previously bare soil. While we didn’t go the flagstone route, we did the next best thing: decomposed granite. The entire project is described in this post.

…and after.
Amazing how nice everything looked right after we completed the project at the end of April

We’re very happy with the overall look, but unfortunately the leaves and fruit from the Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) still create a mess. Since this is a city tree, we are not at liberty to remove it. There’s nothing else we can do, except live with the tree and its autumnal mess and be better about cleaning it up. Maybe adding a thin layer of decomposed granite every spring will help as well.

December 31, 2011

plus_green  4. Build a succulent display stand

The area next to our front porch (see project #3) was previously home to a clutter of pots and nursery trays. The goal for 2011 was to find a neater solution that uses space more efficiently.


In February, we found the perfect thing on Craigslist: a three-tiered stand that had previously been used a Target garden center. It fits perfectly and it looks good as well. Check this post for more details.

…and after, with newly laid decomposed granite

Unfortunately, the Bradford pear droppings present a constant challenge. One of my early spring projects will be to thoroughly clean this area and rearrange the pots.

Display stand on 12/31/11

minus_red  5. Build a potting bench

This project would have involved building a potting bench like this against the side of the house where the colored plastic tubs are.

January 1, 2011

I didn’t happen because my carpentry skills are on the same level as my knowledge of Swahili: non-existent. However, a friend is working on a design for something I would be able to build, so this area may look quite different in a year’s time. For now, it looks like this:

December 31, 2011
A slight improvement, but still not what I want

minus_red  6. Install a Japanese water basin in woodland garden

The goal was to install a water basin or some other small water feature in the area below.


It didn’t happen, mainly because of the logistical challenges involved. There is no electricity in this part of the backyard and the area is too shady for a solar panel that would power the pump. The only alternative would be a solar panel with a very long cable that could be installed on the other side of the fence (which is where the Pittosporum tobira from project #2 is located). At least we have that rock with a hollow in it which acts as a basin substitute.

minus_red  7. Find a better hose storage solution

I’m still looking for a better storage solution for my garden hose than the *$%$§ hose reel in the photo below.

Unsightly hose reel

The best thing I’ve found is a terracotta hose pot (like this) but I refuse to pay upwards of $40 for something so simple. I keep checking the big home improvement chains for winter markdowns on garden items, but so far I haven’t struck gold. But I’m nothing if not patient—and persistent.

plus_green 8. Minimize the clutter in the yard

I will admit it: The fight against clutter is a constant struggle. But I’m better at putting stuff like empty flower pots, buckets and bags of potting soil away.

Leaves and naturally occurring debris are another thing. Fortunately, they eventually turn to beneficial compost. You just have to wait long enough.

minus_red  9. Plant a terrarium with carnivorous plants

This was inspired by a wonderful book I got for Christmas last year, Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paul Gross (Timber Press, 2010). Many different carnivorous plants are commercially available, and creating a carnivorous garden inside a glass terrarium sounded like a neat idea.

But my interests went in different directions. Instead of carnivorous plants, I got cacti.

Boxes of cacti from the Large Cacti & Succulent Nursery at UC Botanical Garden

plus_green 10. Visit the Portland Japanese Garden in the fall

After having visited the Portland Japanese Garden in July of 2010 (1 2 3), I really wanted to go back in autumn to photograph the fall colors. Since Portland, Oregon is only 1½ hours away by plane and I have good friends there, I was able to make it happen. Check out my three-part blog (1 2 3) to see my favorite photos from a place that is truly spectacular.

Japanese maple at Portland Japanese Garden in early November 2011

plus_green 11. Read more gardening blogs

This was the easiest New Year’s resolution of all. As my botanical interests began to diversify, so did the selection of blogs I follow. While in 2010 I had mostly been interested in bamboos and leaf succulents such as agaves and aloes, 2011 was the year of the cactus, complemented by an emerging fascination with bonsai and cycads. Who knows what wonderful discoveries 2012 holds?

By the way, you can see which blogs I keep up with by scrolling to the section “Blogs I read” on the right-hand side.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is the last post for 2011, and I want to wish you a Happy New Year. May all your plans, horticultural and otherwise, come a step closer to fruition in 2012.


  1. You traveled all the way to Portland to visit the Japanese garden in the Fall and I live here and have only visited once, years ago. Something is not right with this picture.

    Happy New Year!

  2. I wonder if publishing a list like this would help motivate me to actually accomplishing more tasks? I may give it a go soon...

    If you're taking suggestions, on #2 I'd suggest a partial replacement of the hedge first, before taking out all of the existing trees. A couple of the mock oranges left between some of the bamboo clumps might work (and look) better than a wall of bamboo. Maybe?

  3. Alan, having a list of projects helped put a certain amount of pressure on me to follow through, but 6 out of 11 isn't exactly a rousing success. That's why I decided not to make a list for 2011. Instead, when a project comes up, I'll try to be better about tackling it right away.

    Great idea about interspersing the bamboo with the mock orange. It would save money up front, and would give us a chance to take large divisions from the bamboos if we decide down the line to replace the remaining pittosporums with bamboo.

  4. You accomplished quite a few of your goals! I can see you doing the rest in 2012. That potting bench will come in quite handy and you will be happy you did it!


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