Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Garden is My Eldest Child

It struck me the other day that my garden is 15 years old this year.

I've been tending and nurturing it, torturing it, weeding it and changing it for 15 years. Every year something is different, or needs to be changed or added to and always, always weeded.

It struck me that I've been raising a 4th child all of these years.

The garden takes nurturing and tending. It takes discipline, watering, cleaning and planning for the future. Some years it's an embarrassment, other years, my pride and joy. I get no greater thrill than when I'm in my garden working (i.e. weeding, weeding, weeding, transplanting), and someone walking by (In the front garden, that is!) tells me how beautiful it is and how they look forward to it being in bloom all summer, or I'm in the back garden and a hummingbird comes whipping by my face, or I listen to the bird song or watch tiger swallowtails land and take nectar.

It's never ever going to be "done". It's always a work in progress.

BUT --

Sometimes I sit back, in the hammock even, and listen to the birds trill at each other in the trees, watch the bees bumble from flower to flower, drunk on nectar, note the family of finches rebuilding their nest in my honeysuckle and admire the occasional dragonfly that zips in for a visit.

I have often noted, though, that I've bitten off more than I can chew with my crazy gardening obsession. This year, I decided to spend some hard earned money on having someone else manage the lawn, create a set of steps in the front yard up our slope and a create working area for me on the north side of the house. It's almost completely done.

A smarter woman would have had before, during and after photos, but I was a little busy with other things, so you'll have to forgive the oversight. Besides, my side yard has been hideous for years, waiting for me to get it together enough to get it "fixed", whatever way I may have in mind.
North side yard, June 2005.

That way changed a lot over the last few years. Originally, it was just lawn. Then, over time and through really hot summers and never enough water, the grass died out and weeds took over. At one point, we started work on building a path, but never completed it. I had planned on having a path and a shade garden on either side of it, maybe a fountain too, but having the twins changed all of that. Instead, installing yet another garden was just more weeding work. Now I've come down to this: a staging area.
North side yard, June 2010.

A place for my potting bench and planting supplies, wheelbarrows and equipment and a place to store yard toys when it's time to water the yard.

Also, most importantly, a gate.

Twin defying gate. I hope.

A small gate to keep the twins out of my gardening supplies. Because I know my children and they'd like nothing better than to strew hundreds of little black pots all over the yard and smash them.

The flagstone steps replaced slate stepping stones that were laid into the ground when we bought the house. Grass has continually grown over them all of these years and the bishops weed growing next to them has always made them unusable. A path you can't find to walk on is pretty useless. Turns out, those stepping stones were a lot bigger than I'd realized, so now I'll have to figure where else to lay them out. I have a plan for that already, of course. The new path looks like this:
Flagstone step pathway.

Bishops weed is all gone, too. Well...maybe not. That stuff is tough.

I've decided to leave the spaces between stones unplanted, although the temptation to shove some thyme in there is pretty high. I'll wait and see how the grass fills in around it. I really don't want yet another planting. Really.

The other area that got fixed up was behind door #1 (Door #2 leads to the side yard.): the trash bin storage area.
Trash bin storage area. Note that the small one is for trash, the large one for recycling and there's another large one for compost around the corner. We produce little trash but a boatload of compost material! Especially during weeding season.

I had my lawn/landscape guy level the floor (years of rainstorms had washed a bunch of soil away and it was always muddy) and use "found" concrete pavers to flatten it and secure the gravel fines. Turns out the people that put the slate steps in had made foundations for the steps first. I don't know why, but there they were, square concrete slabs for use. Not pretty, but functional.

Every year, change comes to the garden. I try my best to keep it in line, but it often gets away from me. With some help from family and paid help, I get through the year. Some days it's restful and fantastic and filled with life. Other times it's a weedy mess and makes me tear my hair out and depresses me with the sheer amount of work left to be done. If I get any five things on my mental list done for the year, it's a successful gardening year. The thing is, that list gets longer, not shorter, with lots of "I should..." and "I'd better..." and the perennial "Next year I'll...".

For this year, I have someone else focused on the lawn (And it looks better than it ever has!), while I steal time and move plants around and plan for the future.

Cherry tree bed.

Maybe I'll mulch this year. I've already added columbines and bleeding hearts to it.

Xeric garden.

Desperately seeking weeding and transplanting. It has lots of "dead" areas where the sprinklers weren't watering evenly. Got Eric to change out some sprinkler heads, so I hope that's fixed. Now I just have to dig out a ton of volunteer weedy grass and replace it with volunteer plants from down in front. Columbines, anyone?

Sidewalk garden.

This one is the biggest eyesore. I desperately need to get in here and finish ripping it apart and reworking it. Hopefully that will happen this year.

Note that I'm not even showing you the backyard and all the work required back there.

Raising children/gardens is never done.


But change is good!


Tracee said...

I feel the same way...except both my garden(s)and my eldest child are 15 this year. The child is 15 this very day, in fact, and has aquired his driving permit. How is it I am old enough to have a child who is driving?!

ellen said...

My yard is a constant work in progress. I won't use weed killers so we have to get out there and weed... weeding sucks! Pretty flower beds and a nice garden are lovely, but you can't have that with weeds in the way.

I like the work you've done!

Me Too said...

oh i have such high hopes for gardening. such high hopes. so far all i've managed is lavender down my front walk -- and a rosemary completely out of control. some day someday.

Red Flashlight said...


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