<p>by Amanda<\/p><img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/perennial-garden.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="379" \/>\r\n\r\nAlthough winter is often thought of as the \u201coff-season\u201d in gardening, it\u2019s really the best time to reflect on the past growing season, take stock of what grew well and what didn\u2019t, as well as plan your garden for next season. Winter reflecting and planning also helps keep the restless gardener busy thinking and dreaming of putting her hands in the soil.\r\n<h2><strong>Reflecting On Your Garden Last Season<\/strong><\/h2>\r\nIf you\u2019re the type of gardener who is always trying something new in the garden, this is an important step. Take inventory of everything you planted last season in a garden journal; throughout the season (or at the end), take note of what did well and what didn\u2019t. You can then go back and make sure everything is planted in the proper spot for its sunlight preference, or realize that plant might just not do well in your garden.\r\n\r\nTaking note of what worked will help you plan for next season. If your <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/bleeding-heart">Bleeding Hearts<\/a> grew and bloomed profusely the first year, try adding several other varieties. If you really enjoyed the colorful <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/dahlia-flower-bulbs">Dahlia blooms<\/a> in your front garden bed, make a note to add more to the garden this spring.\r\n\r\nIf you have a lot going on and find it hard to remember to write in your garden diary, try writing in it on each holiday of the year, starting with New Year's Day. You'll hit dates throughout the gardening season if you write on St. Patrick's Day (March 17), Earth Day (April 22), Memorial Day (May 30), Father's Day (June 19), The Fourth Of July, Labor Day (September 5), Columbus Day (October 10), and Halloween (October 31). These are just some of the many holidays that we celebrate throughout the year; if you write in your garden journal on every holiday, you'll definitely have enough information to reflect on the gardening season at the end of the year.\r\n\r\n<img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/garden-map-2.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="370" \/>\r\n<p align="center"><em>Draw a quick garden map to help keep track of where everything is planted.<\/em><\/p>\r\nKeeping track of what didn\u2019t grow so well will help you learn more about your garden. It\u2019s all about trial and error in the garden; did your <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/peony">Peony<\/a> grow, but no bloom? This might mean it was planted too deep and can be dug up and re-planted in the early spring. Maybe your <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/caladium-bulbs">Caladium<\/a> bulbs were stolen from their pots and enjoyed as a snack for the neighborhood squirrels \u2013 these are all things that are helpful to keep track of in your garden journal so you don\u2019t have the same problem next season.\r\n\r\nAlong with your notes about plants, it\u2019s also really helpful to draw diagrams of your garden. Once everything dies back, it is difficult to remember exactly what is planted where. If you draw a map of your garden, you will remember exactly where your Astilbe lives and just how many Daffodils you planted. This is also a great tool for planning your spring garden; you\u2019ll know where there are open areas to plant!\r\n<h2><strong>Planning For Next Season <\/strong><\/h2>\r\nAfter you\u2019ve reflected on the past growing season, it\u2019s time for the fun part \u2013 planning your planting for the next season. One great way to plan for spring is to start several Pinterest boards to organize your ideas. Label the boards with their different purposes or ideas, like \u2018For the Shade,\u2019 \u2018Container Gardening,\u2019 or \u2018Big Ideas\u2019 to help categorize your pins. Pinterest lets you scour through thousands of gardening ideas and save as many or as few as you'd like, making it easy to come back and sort through them when it's time to plant. Learn more about planning your garden with Pinterest <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2015\/04\/14\/looking-back-how-pinterest-helped-me-get-through-winter\/">in our blog<\/a> and follow <a href="https:\/\/www.pinterest.com\/americanmeadows\/">American Meadows' boards<\/a> for garden inspiration.\r\n\r\nIf squirrels and deer are a challenge in your garden, look for deer-resistant <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/spring\/deer-resistant-flower-bulbs">bulbs<\/a> and <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/spring-planted-perennials\/deer-resistant-perennials">perennials.<\/a> If you\u2019re looking to fill in your shade garden, try <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/perennials\/spring-planted-perennials\/shade-perennials">shade-loving perennials<\/a> or <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/spring\/shade-loving-flower-bulbs">bulbs.<\/a> If you really enjoyed cutting your <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/gladiolus-flower-bulbs">Gladiolus<\/a> last summer and bringing them indoors, be sure to plant more.\r\n\r\n<img src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/shade-garden.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="453" \/>\r\n<p align="center"><em>If you're planning a new garden, make sure to take note of sunlight, soil type and more.<\/em><\/p>\r\nMake sure you come into the season with a set gardening budget, taking in account money for plants, fertilizer, soil, mulch, containers and more. If you\u2019re planting a brand new garden bed, think about its theme. Do you want to <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2015\/12\/21\/planting-for-pollinators-attracting-hummingbirds-bees-butterflies\/">plant for pollinators<\/a>, create a <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2012\/03\/27\/cut-away\/">cutting garden,<\/a> plant all <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2012\/05\/30\/sweet-fragrance-in-the-garden\/">fragrant varieties<\/a> or build a <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2011\/12\/15\/gardening-by-moonlight\/">moonlight garden?<\/a> Maybe you want to try planting all one color and love the cool look that <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2012\/01\/30\/have-winter-blues-think-spring-blues\/">blue blooms<\/a> bring to the garden.\r\n\r\n<img style="padding: 10px" src="\/media\/wpuploads\/sites\/3\/2016\/01\/container-garden.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="343" align="right" \/>If you're <a href="http:\/\/blog.americanmeadows.com\/2015\/12\/14\/how-to-grow-a-healthy-vibrant-container-garden\/">planting in containers,<\/a> think about re-purposing items you already have for pots and making sure you have a nice variety of containers. Plan your containers with annual and perennial varieties that go well together and add texture and color all season long. Designing a container with perennials is really like designing a small garden bed, you\u2019ll want to make sure you put varieties together that require the same amount of light and that will complement each other with foliage and blooms at different times in the season.\r\n\r\nColorful <a href="http:\/\/www.americanmeadows.com\/flower-bulbs\/begonia-flower-bulbs">Begonias<\/a> are a great choice for both the garden and containers. If you're thinking about adding these shade-loving beauties to your garden this season, plan ahead as these tubers need to be started indoors in February to make sure you get full, colorful blooms all season long.\r\n\r\nThe garden possibilities are endless and once you\u2019ve taken stock of what went well last year and what didn\u2019t, it will be easier for you to choose varieties that have a better chance of thriving in your garden. And what better way to spend the winter months than dreaming, scheming and longing for spring?