Monday, May 30, 2011

Messing around in the dirt

My Mum & Dad are awesome gardeners, here they are showcasing some of the fabulous sunflowers they grew for my brother & sister-in-law's wedding, truly they are talented in all matters horticultural!
Consequently I was blessed to grow up in the Hertfordshire equivalent of the Garden of Eden! we had lovely spring daffodils, crocuses, tulips, moving on to summer roses, hollyhocks and honeysuckle and then in the Autumn my Dad's piece d' resistance - the chrysanthemums. In addition to all the floral stuff we had beans, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots; as you do and of course I took it all completely for granted, clearly that was just the way gardens happen right?

Errr wrong!

When I moved into Smith Towers almost eight years ago, I looked with ignorant shame at the miserly flowerbeds not more than a foot wide at any point they were filled with 'cheaters' plants - hostas & day lillies - in my foolish dreams I thought it would take no more than a few weekends 'messing around in the dirt' to recreate my parents idyllic garden paradise in Minnesota.

Of course Mum & Dad helped; Dad dug (actually he double dug in the rain!) two great 'rose' beds leading up my front path, and Mum planted hundreds of bulbs, and it all looked so lovely, perfect and weed free...
 ...and then they left.

Not content with at least 50% more flower beds in my wisdom I widened borders, added a soaker system with automatic timers, and attempted to replicate the lush, colorful English garden of my childhood.

In no particular order here are the lessons I learned:
1. My tolerance for working hard in the heat is very low, so there are two optimal weekends for me to work in the garden; Memorial day weekend & Labor day weekend. If it can't be accomplished in these times I shouldn't even think about it!
2. Mowing the lawn is gardening too...just not the exciting, fulfilling, productive kind. Because Tipsy-sausage is unable to use the mower I need to get mowing hired in!
3. Regardless of how many times you replant expensive roses in lovingly dug flower beds, if they are fighting for survival with 40 year old maple tree roots its a recipe for disaster/frustration/loss of cash!
4. Soaker hoses need pulling up each year, so if you don't want to have to do that don't put them down in the first place!
5. Things that grow in England don't necessarily grow in Minnesota!
6. Green fingers, thumbs or other body parts are not necessarily genetic and in fact may well skip whole generations!

Today the gardens at Smith Towers are marvels of self sufficiency and resilience in the face of wonton neglect and sporadic attention. I've discovered the miracle of hostas & day lilies, become eternally grateful for self-set peonies, wild daisies and raspberries that won't take no for an answer.

 And finally I appreciate all the imagination, planning, hard work, and never ending devotion that leads to a beautiful garden. It's truly a Labor of Love.

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