I’ve been gardening a lot lately. By which I mean I’ve been doing everything from mowing my front lawn to weeding paths to conversing with a bed of white roses. While I love the activity of gardening, the hobby itself is a little, odd. By which I mean the hobbyists, myself included.
We mutter. We wear very odd outfits. We get dirty fingers.
But it’s just so satisfying, caring for plants. They are like toddlers after a bath but better – they smell good, they’re beautiful, you can see they love water – but they don’t run off screaming “No, I won’t put on my pajamas!”
Right now I’ve got 4 micro-gardens, if we could call them that, on the <1/4 acre of my little lot. In the front yard, a veritable pot of gold sunshine, there’s a bed of herbs and vegetable, a bed of white roses, and the ROY, i.e. Rest Of Yard. All other shrubs and flowers pale in comparison to English roses and radish sprouts. That is, until the lavender gets going. I’m a sucker for those purple flower heads, crushed between my fingers.
In the back yard, somebody, 60 years ago or so, planted a Chinese evergreen elm in the center of what is now a tiny lawn. The tree grows rather like a weeping willow, i.e. long. trailing branches. And it’s tall. So everything underneath has to thrive in shade. The colors are much more muted here than out front. The goal, peace. I’d tell you the names of the plants but then we’d enter the world of garden incantations, in which the gardener starts spouting language as thick with Greek as my daughter’s medical school homework.
I will say that I’m waiting to see how the hydrangeas survived the serious pruning of last winter.
I don’t read many gardening blogs, yet. I can’t make sense of the various gardening forums either. But I do love that sense of order into chaos that comes from garden Googling. For example, this morning I searched:
“my daphne shrub died”
Daphne are pretty, of medium height, with green and yellow leaves, and pink and white flowers that bloom in the winter. A lush fragrance. I’ve had 2 die on me suddenly, completely, and for no apparent reason. This morning I decided to see if I could figure out why. First I find that there are many kinds of Daphne. Mine is probably Daphne Odorata, or, Winter Daphne. And guess what?
Winter Daphne: When Bad Plants Happen To Good People (Galloping Horse Garden blog)
Turns out these plants die all the time. For everyone. Suddenly all the other gardeners who struggle are standing in my yard, shaking their heads with me and saying, “Maybe the soil is just too clayey right there. Maybe you wanna plant another viburnum instead. They aren’t as beautiful, and don’t drive you mad with happiness at their bloom, but they won’t break your heart.” I have company in my quirks.
I suspect that’s what people like about all sorts of hobbies - knitting, sewing, welding, hops. Stained glass making. Company.
You can garden as mysteriously, or as systematically, as you like. Know as much of the science as possible, or none. It may help you live longer. But maybe what I like best is that it keeps me loving the world. Seedlings are my pets, and bees my neighbors.
Photo above, a bee on thyme