April 29th, 2008
I suppose with all the travel this month I did, in fact, miss two full weeks of April in the garden. I’m seriously behind. I have little seedlings in the family room that I am desperate to take outside. I have blueberry bushes to transplant. Heirloom tomatoes are on their way from California. There is still some tidy-up work to be done.
Nevertheless, those plants seemed to have carried on without me. So here’s my April pictorial update.
The front flower beds are on the north side of the house, so they don’t get much in the way of sun. I’ve been trying to morph them away from traditional landscape plantings toward more of a true garden setting. It’s slow going as I experiment with plants that work…Oh, and find the time.
The azaleas have finally started to take off, as has the Solomon’s Seal. The hellebores are extremely gorgeous–So much so that I’m thinking of taking advantage of the hellebores sale from Hersonswood Nursery. They have two hellebores called Kingston Cardinal and Gold Finch that would be fabulous planted in a large group, especially since hellebores seem to like living here at Bumblebee.
The Dead Nettle (awful name/fabulous plant) around my adorable foo dogs is covered in little pink flowers. Tiny little plantlets are coming up around the plant through the mulch.
I love the Dead Nettle so much that I planted a mass of it alongside the driveway–another shady spot. The whole area is in dire need of some planning and planting. It’s a very large area, which means a LOT of plants. I’m still scratching my head about how to tackle it.
A few years ago my then-early-teenage son took it upon himself to whack down a small tree by the driveway with a machete. Typical boy. I left if there as I pondered what to do with the side garden. When I saw this birdhouse from Walpole Woodworkers, the little lightbulb over my head went off.
Unfortunately, the foam flowers that I planted there last year aren’t as robust as I had hoped. Perhaps they are like the hellebores and just need some time to settle in.
Then there’s the lawn, which you heard about before. This is the view from the front of the house. Although you read a lot about lawns not being practical, when you have this much room, a lawn is a very practical thing indeed. If we ever need to have an impromptu football game, there’s room to pass the ball. And I can cut it in less than an hour when I have a working riding mower. Since there’s not a chance that I’ll ever be able to garden all this space, a pretty green lawn works quite well and gives us a nice view up the hill.
After the drought last summer the lawn looked hideous. But with aeration and seeding in the fall–and a good amount of rain this spring–it has bounced back quite nicely.
Back in the Colonial garden, the veggies are thriving. I’ve also been cutting tulips and putting them all around the house.
The herb garden is a bit mangy, but it’s still early. The columbine that I started from seed didn’t do much last year. But this year the columbine is EVERYWHERE. I had forgotten that I tucked a couple of little seedlings in the herb bed last year. But this year–here they are!
And last, but not least, the compost bins are currently under a canopy of Dogwood. Yes, that’s my clothes line. And yes, I use it.
Well, so there you have it. There are a couple of other photos of the Colonial theme garden from the last post if you want to see more.
That was a bit of a ramble, but it gave me a chance to spew out all the photos.
And as you can see, April was here because it left behind the evidence. I hope I don’t miss May!
April 27th, 2008
I get such joy from working in the garden, I often wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone want to do this?”
Think about it. People love a garden. They drive for miles to visit parks so that they can enjoy the luscious green and sniff that fresh air. Botanical gardens in nearly every major city and plenty of smaller ones attract thousands of visitors each year yearning to gaze upon the beauty of the flowers. (Millions on the days I’m there!) People are instant friends with vegetable gardeners in their offices who bring in baskets of their bounty to share. (“Zucchini anyone?”) They buy gardening magazines by the bazillions. They’ll slow down as they drive by to admire the gardens they pass on the way to work.
And although most folks dutifully march outside to mow the lawn on Saturdays and maybe even do a bit of weed whacking to keep the home owners’ association Nazis at bay, few people actually rush home from work to deadhead their dahlias and turn their compost. I’m talking about creating the kind of garden that makes people want to linger. At least not the people that I know.
So why don’t more people actually create their own oases of beauty at home?
When visitors see Bumblebee the first thing most people usually ask is, “How much time does all this take?” (I suspect they’re also wondering, “How much does she spend on this gardening hobby of hers?”)
I used to believe one of the biggest hurdles for most people is time. The desire is there, but most folks just can’t seem to work it into their schedules because we’re just too darned busy working to buy things. After all, the time gurus tell us that as Americans, in particular, we are possession rich and time poor.
But wait a minute. Think about this little nugget from the 2006 Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On an average day, nearly every American age 15 and older–a whopping 95%–had several hours of leisure activity. Men had 5.7 hours of leisure time and women had 4.9 hours of leisure time. (I won’t even go into that glaring disparity right now.) That’s every single day. But for both men and women, half of that leisure time activity was spent watching television!
That means that most U.S. men and women are spending close to three hours of time watching television every single day!
Well, that explains it. Or at least part of it.
Sure, not everyone is as hepped up to sweat in the sun while ruining their manicure as I am. And not everyone has the space to garden. Some people are not able to manage the physical demands of gardening. A whole lot of people have no idea even how to get started since most of us no longer live near the grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles who were traditionally our garden mentors. And I recognize that gardening on a grand scale can be costly, although there are plenty of budget alternatives to beautify the yard.
But for quite a lot of people, it’s mostly a matter of preferring to watch “American Idol” or “Dancing With the Stars.” Ultimately, it seems, Americans are making choices to tune out rather than to engage and create beauty right outside their own backdoors.
Sadly for them, these choices won’t amount to much at the end of their days. Our lives are defined by the choices we make. Some of us will know all the winning strategies to be the “Survivor.” And some of us will have lovely gardens, islands of peace, to share with friends and loved ones.