May 13, 2020

Take Me Out to the Garden…

By Diane W. Carr 

Spring and one’s thoughts turn to the great outdoors. Gardening is a hobby, a pastime, and a passion. For me, one thing that gets me through winter is wondering what plants will pop up in the spring. It’s like how some people think about baseball… this will be the year we make it to the bigtime; we’re going all the way. Unfortunately, if my garden were a baseball team, it would be the Cubs. Minor league at that. I love my garden, but it doesn’t love me back. If there is love, the garden loves me for my money. More mulch! More compost! Plant something here in the north bed that won’t die off like the tickseed and lupine (and the coneflowers and the rose bush). Make it snappy! For years I would go to the Friends School Plant Sale (the largest plant sale in the upper Midwest) and go slightly crazy. I would go with a list, which I promptly ignored, as I fell in love with their 30 different kinds of tomatoes. Thirteen different type of marigolds! Rare flowers, common flowers, roses, bushes, trees, shrubs. Most of the plants were small and inexpensive. Most of them didn’t last the season in my yard. In truth, my garden is a hospice center where plants go to die. What doesn’t die, but instead thrives, are weeds. I have dandelions the size of dinner plates. Creeping Charlie everywhere. I spend my first days in the garden pulling weeds. They are relentless. I had a patch of purslane that took me 3 years to irradiate. Burdock and quack grass that has been with me for years. So how does my garden grow? Solomon seal is hard to kill and looks like you know what you’re doing. I probably have 10 different types of Hosta’s, with the rabbits only eating the ones I buy from Bachman’s. Hardy geranium is truly hardy. Sedum (which I call sedum and forget them) pop up all over. Bleeding hearts are wonderful flowers. Once you establish peonies, you really can’t kill them. After they bloom (right before a heavy rain which puts the blossoms in the mud) you can trim them back and have a tidy bush. Shrub roses, originally established in Canada, are a good bet. Beardtongue is hardly and reliable. I let lamium loose on the back of my house and it looks good with no fuss. Just run it over with a lawn mower if it gets out of line. I try to keep the raspberry bushes from taking over the yard. I will continue to encourage and coax my plants to prosper while flailing away at the weeds. A little sun, a little patience, and a little luck gets me through the summer. Come September, I throw my hands up and turn my back on everything. But I know it will be waiting for me next spring.