Sunday, October 2, 2011

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Years ago, when I was a young gardener, I would have been mortified to take a walk in the garden that I found myself in today.

My Crape Myrtle, finally blooming, is laden with rainwater.
Back then, I was still deluded by my own self-serving grandiosity. I believed I could weave perfection out of weeds and dirt chunks. I could design eye-candy out of waterlogged detritus. Transform the desert into an oasis. Anything less was failure.

Fuchsia, Joe Pye and Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate with the chartreuse foliage of Himalayan Honeysuckle.
As my kids got older and their play structures were relegated to Goodwill, I had my expanding blank canvas. There wasn't much that was too difficult for my designer's mind to wrap itself around.

The final show of a Hosta
Most of what I enjoy today is the result of those sore muscles and impetuosity. I'm grateful that the really heavy work is behind me.

Aging Cotinus foliage doused with rainwater. 
An early October deluge has rendered my garden pretty sad looking. This, after a dry summer. Lacking measurable rainfall for about two and a half months, my plants had been forced to anchor their roots in hardpan. Leaves turned brown and shriveled into unrecognizable masses; stems that once held the prettiest of flowers were now brown and crispy.

Hydrangea 'Glowing Embers' 
But then the rains came. And now many once-vertical stems are laying prostrate, encroaching on walkways and their neighbors. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Lespedeza on a good year. 
Good thing I've got a sense of humor about it all. I'm older now. Grand illusions of perfection don't occupy every inch of my gray matter. The garden evolves and devolves.

The Fuchsia are still looking great. 
Rather than scrutinize the entire garden, I seek out small victories. Raindrops on a dangling Fuchsia...

Shiny seeds from Lantana 

Pretty seed pods or a lone spider clinging to its web, (at which point I go somewhere else).

"Poor Man's Orchid" or Impatiens balfouri seedpod.
And because I'm so easily amused by plants, sometimes I'll saunter over to my Poor Man's Orchid and grasp a long, thin seedpod and let it pop in my hand. I know, silly, right?


  1. I am going through the same thing here. Lots of dry, crispy foliage and leggy stuff, now beaten down by rain. I used to let the seedpods of native touch-me-nots/Jewelweed pop open in my closed hand too, when we lived in Massachusetts, we had loads of it in our back yard. It was the most interesting sensation to have those seeds tickle your palm!

  2. Grace, I think that you have hit the nail on the head - we certainly become more realistic and patient with age. As you say we content ourselves with 'small victories' . Like you though I would be popping seedpods too - not in the least bit silly - the inner child never fades :)

  3. Oh my gosh, your garden is stupendous, full of wonderful colors, textures, blooms and foliage. I would love to walk around there with you. I am encouraged to keep working on my humble gardens. Thanks for the inspiration. My favorite picture today is the one of 'Fuchsia, Joe Pye and Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate with the chartreuse foliage of Himalayan Honeysuckle'.

    Have a wonderful week.


  4. Not silly at all! looks like you have some amazing plants in your garden, looking forward to browzing thru your blog.

  5. I've never heard those called Poor Man's Orchid. We call them Wild Impatiens. And wild they are! I LOVE popping the pods! The kids do too, now. Which is why they come up EVERYWHERE. Ah well, easy enough to pull.
    Your yard looks gorgeous to me. But the rains have given everything a serious beating. Poor things at my house are either water drenched or covered in mud from being knocked to the ground. I was just looking at my yellow dahlia this morning that's completely bent over thinking, now why don't I go out and pick those poor things and put them in a vase?
    I'm envious of the room you have for so many large shrubs. "Someday", right? :o)

  6. Loving the Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate picture. Beautiful!
    I am glad that our gardens are getting a good soaking, but hoping we will also have some nice weather still!

  7. Some of your pinks and plants are still looking marvelous to me. The dark foliage of the Cotinus is just so lovely Grace. I know here it has been one awful year for the gardens and I have so many bare spots now that I am picking my closeups. LOL! Your Crape Myrtle is so beautiful now. Mine is about done for as blooming goes. Have a wonderful week.

  8. Grace, if it is a mess in your garden, I would call it an artistic mess!
    We have the same situation with rain here. My Joe Pye weed, phloxes and dahlias are all in a horisontal position, doing yoga. But there are still so many beautiful blooms! Love all your pink ladies! Hosta is gorgeous! Where are your slugs?

  9. Yes, gardens can certainly humble us. I, too, have grand visions, but realize they will only look perfect in my dreams. The best joys are from the small glimpses of beauty. We would miss so very much if we didn't have to look close!

  10. Ahhhhhh, yes, grab and embrace every small victory.



  11. I understand Grace~This has been a dry summer and hot summer in the Middle South~I haven't had the energy or heart to water everything. Maybe next year will be better. gail

  12. I think you speak to so many of us with this post. One of the true pleasures of gardening doesn't always fall to the grand borders, the wonderous's the small simple pleasures that keep us going back.

  13. Not silly at all. You've just learned to appreciate the small stuff! It still looks beautiful Grace despite the stress of a dry summer. We've had exactly the same ~ no rain for 2 or maybe even 3 months now. Hand watering is absolutely necessary to keep the new plants alive. You're so lucky to have the hard work done. Why did I only just start that?!!
    Next year I am going to grow "Kiss me over the garden gate!" It's beautiful. Did you buy plants or start from seed??

  14. Even in my youth and vigor I am so glad that the back-breaking work at our house is done! We will need to move eventually (3 years??), so I really hope that I do not totally give up my garden dreams and flop before then!

    I say, good job!!! You have made a gorgeous garden! Enjoy it!

  15. Grace:
    Your garden is still looking lovely from my view at least! I spent most of the day putting the 'Shaded Walk' to bed, but still haven't the heart to do anything with the R & U border, as I still have Corydalis and SPigelia blooming their heads off. We are supposed to have an extended Indian summer here, but its been so cold and wet this past two days, I am beginning to question it!

  16. Ah yes, it's good to appreciate the fleeting beauty in our gardens. It all changes so fast. Your Fuchsia, for example, really are gorgeous.

    Glad you got some rain! :)

  17. Grace I think your garden is in declining leaves, changes in color and rain drops dressing up plants...I see beauty from all your hard my garden i see a wreck but others see beauty...hard for us to see our creation through the unbiased eye...

  18. Grace,

    I am with you more realistic is the key phrase. I always love your pink!


  19. I agree that your garden still looks lovely. It's beautiful, like a older woman, who has earned every wrinkle. Not that I am saying your garden is wrinkled.

    What's kiss me over the garden gate?

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  20. Is that bright edge on the Cotinus leaves because the tree is stressed? I fell for that look, but mine remains plain old purple. Lovely shots, by the way...and the latest edition of BeBop has a quote from you on the back cover (Loree too).

  21. Small victories are most certainly what sustains this particular gardener through the very long dry season we have here. Then I wait patiently to see if the garden will get through the torrential downpours of the wet season. It's definitely one thing or the other in my corner of the world too. Your garden looks absolutely beautiful to me compared to the dry parched landscape around me at the moment.

  22. Sounds as if our weather has been identical, dry, dry, dry and now wet.
    Love your gardening attitude! We're also happy the "heavy lifting" is mostly finished in our garden. We're scheduled to be on the Idaho Botanical Garden tour next summer. After that pressure we've promised to just sit back, relax and enjoy what we, and Mother Nature, have wrought.


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