{pretty, happy, funny, real}: Obsessive Gardener Edition

round button chicken

This is all Pretty, Happy, Funny, and Real rolled into one.

I dabbled in gardening, messing around with herbs and tomatoes and green beans and the odd petunia, for many years before I really started to get into it about 10 years ago. Like all hobbies that begin to get a little more serious, gardening takes one to heights of ecstasy and eventually breaks your heart, but in between there is just a lot of effort.

Last week, I finally cut back many of the perennials who had done their big splash for the year and wanted tidying. It is a mini-heartbreak to do this chore, because I know they will look forlorn for a few weeks here in the heat when we all want something cheerful to let our gazes rest upon, but what must be done must be done, so I did it, and I live in hope for the new sprouts that will follow, if we get rain, which we may not, but there it is.

With the rampant growth removed, I could see all my former placement sins in sharp focus:

These photos are not great, but here we see in the foreground the sheared off clump of nepeta (catmint), which is far too close to the robust persicaria ‘Firetail’. They would manage to get along, both being vigorous-yet-accomodating neighbors, but I have squeezed in there a geranium ‘Ann Folkard'(?), which is the falling-over-gangly few stems right by the wall. Poor Ann, if indeed she is Ann — she wants to be healthy and thriving but my poor placement is choking her life away.

Out comes the old twisted digging fork. The sweat started forming between my shoulder blades and on the back of my neck right about now. And, I’m doing this in my “nice” clothes. Why must these spontaneous moving sessions always happen on going-to-town days? Somebody should plan better.

Dig, dig, dig. Did I mention we have clay soil? With rocks?

There. All better. Two plants given more breathing space. And it looks so much…
No. Still forlorn for a few weeks.

What do they say? “No rest for the wicked and the righteous don’t need none.” Gotta run. Got more plants to move. I’m wearing a skirt today cuz I’ve gotta go to town in a little while…

What is happening in your yard this week? (Or your patio, or your windowsill…) Oh, and if you’ve got any obsessions you want to get off your chest, feel free to share here.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Your soil looks like mine – you have more ambition than I, though. I have a little bed in front near the steps in which the weeds are too thick; I hate trying to clear it up because the soil is too hard. I’ve decided to layer newspaper on it for a few months to break things up, even though my daffodils will die – I can get new ones. Then, hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up with it better.

    • Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      It is certainly a challenge with soil issues. Ours is IMPROVED after several applications of mushroom soil, but it will be a lifelong job, nonetheless. Good luck with your own garden.

  2. Posted July 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I can relate completely! I have a ‘pretty-ish sort of wilderness’ growing in my backyard. For many years I had a huge double pond and some lovely flowers growing around it. But, last year the main big pond broke. Since I had extra lining from a pump purchase, I thought this year I would move some things about and make it a bit smaller but, still enjoyable. I began well, but life happens and it got put on hold. Now here it is the middle of July and the heat is so bad I’d have to keep a soaker on the plants for them to live post-replanting. If that weren’t bad enough we have clay for dirt, too. The only good soil is the soil I buy and put in the hole I dig, to put in plants. Everything else washes down the great hill to the river area. They have great, lovely, dark black soil…..much of which, is mine. I do some weeding as time permits these days but the main replantings will come in the cooler fall months when I can devote more time and effort. It is a love/hate relationship for sure but, I always enjoyed the sound of running water and the animals that come to drink. Ahhh, the projects I get started…… 🙂

    • Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I’d like to see your pretty-ish sort of wilderness sometime, Suze. And I love how the folks at the bottomland have such nice soil. I feel a little silly moving those two plants now because I will have to keep them watered most likely, but when inspiration strikes…

  3. Posted July 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m a new gardener, but I already understand spontaneous moving sessions. I woke up July 4th and ran to Lowe’s, brimming with new ideas, despite the 100-degree temperatures that week. Within just a few days, a good chunk of the new plants had all but died. From heat exhaustion, I suppose.

    I wish I could get my landscaping to look as lived-in as yours. I love that look. Mine just looks like potted plants I’ve stuck in the ground. They sustain, but they just don’t grow! Next year, I’m just tilling some wildflower seeds.

    • Posted July 20, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Gardening certainly seems to have a learning curve that goes on and on, doesn’t it, Shannon? Just when I think I’ve “got it,” I realize there is so much more to discover. Plant placement is something I get right part of the time and fail at miserably other times. There are so many variables! The particular spot can alter the plants’ expected size and shape because of light, temp, wind, and soil quality, and we can’t know any of that until we try!

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