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Saturday essay: The garden eclectic

| Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

The new garden is beginning to take shape. At least in the mind.

It won't be long before the greenhouse gets its annual scrubbing; whether the long-in-the-tooth roof of marine vinyl is replaced with more sturdy polycarbonate panels remains to be seen. But if the long-range forecast is accurate, there won't be much else activity there until true spring arrives; March is expected to be much colder than usual this year.

That, however, should free up time to rethink the adjacent raised beds.

The tomatoes, handicapped by last year's early blight, will get a new home — a larger, sunnier bed on a terrace just below the greenhouse. And that will free up some major real estate.

Peppers, grown only in the greenhouse the past several years, likely will be the greatest beneficiary. But expanded plots of green beans and cucumbers won't be far behind. And the cabbage will be able to stretch its legs a bit more.

As for that newly free space in the greenhouse, perhaps it's time to think outside the box. An ornamental banana tree would make a singular statement. But Mexican watermelon gherkins or Malaysian yard-long snake beans certainly could be conversation starters. Then again, a nice large tub of mixed flowers would please pollinators and plants alike.

The possibilities, of course, are endless. After all, if you can't make your garden an experience in horticultural eclecticism, why bother?

— Colin McNickle

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