More Things We Learned from This Year's Gardening:
-- Seriously, if the chives don't survive the winter, buy more. They are so convenient and delicious! Maybe try a few more herbs, too, since those were such a success...
-- The morning glories took a long time to bloom-- maybe because they got such a late start, maybe because they just take a long time, some years. I'd almost given up hope of them ever blooming-- but then they did! The three vines that survived the summer bloomed in overlapping succession. Two of them are still blooming, while the third has mostly shriveled up. It's looking a little pathetic, actually, and I was thinking that I ought to cut/tear it down, when I noticed that it's covered in seed pods. I don't know why, but I was under the impression that they wouldn't set seed-- or at that the seeds wouldn't "come true", but the Internet tells me otherwise. If I remember, I'll try to harvest some of the seeds for next year. (And I'm sure some will fall to the ground in the process.) The morning glory vines on the fence did very well. The one on the corner of the patio cover was ok, but didn't really cover the trellis as much as I'd envisioned. Instead, it climbed up into a neighboring shrub and took over a shepherd's hook. (I could've gotten out there and trained it better, but by the time it was getting bigger, I didn't feel like bothering. Humidity, yuck.)
-- The surprise performers of the annuals were the vincas. They took a while to really settle in and grow, but once they did-- wow! Some of them have outlasted everything else. The petunias didn't last that long (probably because I wasn't deadheading them correctly), and even the dusty miller, begonias, and marigolds have mostly faded away, but a few of the vincas are still going strong. Definitely plant more of those, next year-- and give them room to spread out.
-- I think I'd skip the impatiens in favor of more begonias for the shady patio. The impatiens just didn't perform as well.
-- The dusty miller kind of disappointed me, this year. I'm not sure what was wrong-- and they were ok-- but not as nice as I'd expected.
-- The marigolds were pretty great. I'd plant more of those, and maybe try a few different varieties. I saved some of the seeds for next year, and a few of the ones I scattered came up this season. (Of course, they didn't do much, because they came up so late...) I'll be interested to see if the seeds create nice plants. (I'm still not completely clear on which things do well from seed and which don't. I understand some of it, in theory-- hybrids and all that-- but it's not something I feel completely confident about. No harm in trying, though. Nothing to lose but a very little time and effort.)
-- The cleome were wonderful-- flowered and made a ton of seed. I saved some of it in an envelope, but by far most of it was scattered directly into the surrounding soil. I hope the seeds will take hold for next year. There's every reason to expect that they will.
-- Try not to overdo the plants in pots. It seems easier to begin with, but it ends up being more work when you have to water things so often. On the patio, fine. In the "septic tank" bed, yes. Out in the flowerbeds, no.
-- Maybe put something hardy (i.e. doesn't need watering very often) by the front door. We never use that entrance, so it's easy to forget, but it might look nicer with something green in that corner... Possibly a few pots of aloe-- maybe one or two on a plant stand, with something decorative (a "welcome" sign? a wreath?) on the empty wall... I divided/re-potted the aloe this year, and there's a ton of it, now. ...And I know from past