How Does My Garden Grow?

It doesn’t.  Unless you count the weeds that explode with primeval lushness in my yard during Florida’s “growing season.”

We try to keep up with the encroaching overgrowth by weeding at least once a week.  I hate weeding. It is exhausting.   It is physically painful.  It is also frustrating because it is so darn relentless.  I swear that as soon as I pull one weed out of the ground, another one springs up in its place.  The weeds and I are in a race to see if I can pull faster than they can grow.  The weeds are winning.  Every now and then, as I contemplate the futility of my task, I consider forgetting the whole thing and telling people I am going for the “wild, naturalistic” look for my garden.  Two things keep me from doing that.  First, I don’t think the homeowners’ association would buy my story.  Second, I am concerned that, if too much overgrowth takes hold, my yard will become a haven for creepy crawly creatures that can hide amongst the weeds- creepy crawly creatures like bugs, lizards, and snakes.  Heck, I’m pretty sure that if I stopped weeding for a week, dinosaurs would once more walk the earth in my backyard. This time of year, maintaining the weed status quo is a victory.

So I keep weeding.  Resentfully, but I keep weeding.  When I start a weeding session, I am irritable.  When I finish a weeding session, I am just relieved to not have found a brontosaurus in the tangles of the shrubberies.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually love gardens.  I love flowers.  I love fresh vegetables and herbs.  I love butterflies bouncing off blooms.   I’ve visited many beautiful arboretums and botanical gardens.  One of my favorite places in Washington D.C. is the national botanical garden.  I have spent many a happy hour at the flower and garden festival at Disney World’s EPCOT park.  I never go to Las Vegas without visiting the gorgeous garden in the conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.  Yes, I love gardens.   Unfortunately, I also hate dirt and sweat.  The two positions appear to be mutually exclusive.  It is all just so much work… hot, dirty work.  I think I could almost handle the work itself, if it didn’t involve salty sweat droplets dripping into my eyes and mud embedded under my fingernails.

I think I’ve found a way to resolve “love gardens/hate gardening” dilemma.  I kind of cheat.

There is a garden club in our community.  I never did anything as madcap as joining it.  However, a friend of mine belongs to the garden club and invites me to activities that involve no real work.  I’ve visited arboretums and joined the club members on garden tours. I’m not a gardener, but I’m riding the coattails of the gardeners.

I know a number of club members now.  It strikes me that they are all perfectly normal, clean people who are somehow able to create gardens without perpetually looking like ragamuffins.  I don’t know how they do it.  I wash my hands reasonably often.  I bathe regularly.  Still, I usually find I am picking garden debris off my extremities hours and hours after actually gardening.

It has been really wonderful to immerse myself in the delights of gardens without exerting any effort beyond polite conversation.  Also, I’ve enjoyed the club members’ discussions and learned a thing or two.  You don’t have to be an artist to be interested in art history.  You don’t have to be a gardener to be interested in botany and design. I usually enjoy listening to anyone who is talking about anything for which he or she has a passion.  Listening to my talented gardening friends is no exception.

Once in a while, that passion is almost contagious.  I flirt with the idea of actually planting something.  Then, reason prevails.  I forget about subjecting some poor plant to my ineptitude and neglect.  It is easier to head to Disney World for the Epcot Flower and Garden festival to get my flower fix.  Heck, it is easier to fly 2500 miles to Las Vegas and visit the conservatory gardens at the Bellagio.

Do you garden?  What is your experience like?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a great growth day!

Terri 🙂

 

10 thoughts on “How Does My Garden Grow?”

  1. This is a beautiful story. Of course, it made me cry too, but lots of things make me cry! I’m so glad you were reunited wit Terri Bear!!

    1. See why I thought about the Terri Bear piece when you were talking about your mom’s painting the other day? Some things are just more lavish in memories than other things, aren’t they?

  2. I have a passion for gardening that doesn’t necessarily translate into a “Martha Stuart” garden. People laugh at me for cutting the large lawn with a push mower but I laugh and say it’s a way of maintaining my body-by-bacon! Cutting grass ticks off a lot of boxes for me – a good walk surrounded by the seasonality of nature, some resistance training, meditative activity, immediate results, a sense of accomplishment. I get a great deal of satisfaction when I process/preserve the vegetables from the garden – green beans, tomatoes, kale, corn, peas, zucchini. Rhubarb was the first bounty to go into the freezer this season. I’ll appreciate the rhubarb crisps and fruit compotes in the winter. I cleaned the perennial bed yesterday and stand in reverence this morning as I look out at the vibrant pink peonies and deep purple Danesblood bellflower against the verdant lawn. Yesterday I saw the first delicate blooms on the harsh cacti. Soon there will be yellow daylilies and blood orange tiger lilies. The dirt under the toenails prompts me to tend to my pedicures, keeping the toenails painted to hide the dirt. It is a constant work in progress. It seems like I just get to the end of the gardening list and it’s time to start at the beginning again. I need to pull myself back and not let my imagination run wild in order to keep things manageable as I age. Ecclesiastes 3:1 comes to mind – to everything there is a season.

    1. “Body by bacon” 🤣 I love it, Mona! I think I might have “body by ice cream.”

      You rock, Mona. I am in awe of you!

  3. I get a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done the weeding and mulching. Yes, my body aches (more now than years ago), but that sense of accomplishment still outweighs it. And I like being outside and honestly don’t mind the dirt & sweat. Because I certainly get dirty. But I do go for a low maintenance yard; not anything that requires weekly nor daily work. It’s seasonal, so I get a fix of it and then can look at it for weeks with only grass cutting needed… which is hubby’s job.

    Our Florida lawn (yes, we have a house there) is basically “green stuff” which I have a nice young man regularly mow. We are not there long enough (yet) to have any landscaping. But someday I might try and plant some things, and will be looking at things that grow naturally in that environment. Maybe I’ll be fighting the weeds there more than here? Who knows!

    1. They call summer “growing season” in Florida. It can be quite dramatic. The guy who mows my lawn does it monthly most of the year and WEEKLY between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It isn’t just the grass that grows…. unfortunately the weeds seem to grow even faster!

  4. I recently went on a tour of “master gardeners'” homes in Swarthmore, PA. Wow, the amount of work involved to maintain that level of gardening was overwhelming to me. I was very glad to just admire the gorgeous gardens, settings, pathways, statuary, ponds, etc……even a previous swimming pool, now transformed into a wonderful outdoor dining area with plantings, overhead structure for hanging plants and lights…..etc….. I’m glad to have a pretty yard with enough gardening to keep me a little busy, but not overwhelmed. My favorite gardening activity is walking around with my hose, watering, looking to see what’s blooming and picking up some weeds here and there as I go. The hardest thing for me: at 68 yo, standing on a step ladder with hedge clippers to keep bushes under control. May have to pay someone to do this activity soon!

  5. We bought a home with more gardens than I’ve ever owned. Many perennials and grasses which have required a lot of work and culling over the past 10 years. I have a set of “garden clothes” and I wear gloves most of the time, so my hands aren’t destroyed (although the dirt seems to seep into the gloves for some reason). And I step out of the clothes when I’m done and leave them in the laundry room. That said, it is becoming more challenging as I age, and I ache more when I’m finished. But it’s a real pleasure for me to look out at it when it’s been weeded and mulched for the season. And about August when things are wilting if it’s not raining regularly, I accept that it’s waning for the season and lower my standards. Ha!

    We also have critters that eat a lot of our blossoms and leaves if I’m not diligent with stinky sprays, etc., so over time I’ve migrated to deer resistant plants and divided and spread those that survive. Sadly, several plants I loved just didn’t do well and have gone into the compost pile.

    But overall, I do love my gardens and hope I’m able to keep them up for a long time yet.

    1. It sounds like you have beautiful gardens, Laurel. I have the one gardening outfit as well, and strip it off right into the laundry when I’ve “finished” (actually, “surrendered” is probably more accurate since I’m convinced it is impossible to really finish weeding in central Florida in the summer). Still, I always seem to have mud and dirt and grass and weedy bits sticking all over me. 😳

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