my garden of frustration


Patience is a virtue every gardener must have. But right now I am feeling a garden of frustration. So much seems missing after the winter.

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau

As I wander around my garden I am thrilled by all the daffodils. I see some tendrils of ferns unraveling and the pink and purples of bleeding hearts and a couple of the peonies as they start to emerge.

And mint, the mint will be coming in with a vengeance. May it grow tall and strangle out the bishop’s week which nothing seems to kill.

Some hostas are emerging. So are some of the day lilies. But tradescantia is nowhere to be seen and my specimen hydrangeas are somewhat decimated after the winter. And I seem to be missing so many hostas.

Remarkably the roses are leaf budding already and I see some daisies coming back and the garden phlox.

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” ~Gertrude Jekyll

But so much is missing. I am hoping these plants are not really missing, just still sleeping. Like all my coneflowers and remarkably a very old and established buddleia and all my species of monarda. And where are the Lillie’s of the valley? They should be poking up their little heads!

In the back garden I am so distressed about the wonderful shrubs I planted to break up the pachysandra ponds in the back. But I think I am going to loose a lot of them. The winter was just too hard.

Hence my garden of frustration.

It is so hard when you work so hard on your garden and then along comes Mother Nature to redefine and redecorate. So today I just stood and looked. And looked. And wondered.

The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows. –Vita Sackville-West

Now I wait. It is early for some things, but I think I have a LOT of digging in the dirt ahead of me.

Mind you it isn’t all bad. The lilacs are beginning to bud and the forsythia are happy and vigorous, with their graceful yellow arms bobbing in the breeze.

My Japanese maple is getting ready to start to leaf as is my weeping willow. And I love Japanese maples. I think I need to have more of those in my woods.

But right now in spite of what brings me delight, I am admittedly frustrated over what may have been lost. Sigh….only time will tell how my garden will grow!

Sorry folks, it’s that time of year when I dream in verdant greens and plan new planting beds in my head…..and start to dig in the dirt!

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

in the garden

DSC_0035Where would I rather be even on a hot and humid day? My garden.   l love my garden and I love the open space which exists around me.  I love that I don’t live in some Pulte Homes or Toll Brothers development where I would open a window and be able to spit into my neighbor’s kitchen.

Gardening is indeed communing with nature and I swear that connection with Mother Earth  puts you closer to God.  I revel in each new plant discovery and love finding things that sprouted up from a seed that a breeze or bird dropped along the way – like the Japanese Lantern plants I just found in the middle of some day lilies a few days ago. I also recently discovered some baby hostas that sprang up where I didn’t ever plant any and then there was the toad lily that appeared in the spring where one was never planted.  I even discovered a couple of Trillium plants which are among the most beautiful of spring flowers.

I love going to my favorite local nurseries and choosing my plants myself.  I love working with my mail order growers on other plants.  I love digging in the dirt and planting up a DSC_0054storm and tending everything and watching it grow. I get through the winter pouring through gardening catalogs and gardening books.

I realized recently that I have been re-creating for the past couple of years the gardens of my childhood and aspects of the gardens of others I have always loved.  Ironically the woman who would have been my mother in law if she was still alive was an incredible gardener, a true master gardener.  When I go through gardening books that belonged to her I love reading the little notes she left in the margins. And yes, I do have a lot of vintage gardening books, I love them just like my cookbooks.

I am not Martha Stewart, or Gertrude Jekyll or C.Z. Guest or Rosemary Verey, I am just me, an average backyard gardener.  But I have to tell you it is so glorious to garden that I feel sorry for people who can only manage to dial a phone and hire someone to garden for them (getting “shrubbed” is not gardening!).  These people are missing out on so much.  So are the people who think gardening is like HGTV and DIY shows along the lines of Yardcore, Going Yard, I Hate My Yard and so on. It’s not. DSC_0032

Trust me, there is life beyond the hardscape with giant fire pit. You want a “bodacious backyard”? Oh my gosh then create one! Yourself. You can do it!

Getting lost in the garden tending to plants and watching to see what kind of birds you have and butterflies is one of the greatest simple pleasures of life.

Go ahead, dig in the dirt. Get your hands dirty. It is s worth it season after season.