Now's the time ...

Now's the time to talk about gardening. Or not... Do you have a flower garden? You do? Do you love wor
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Now's the time to talk about gardening.

Or not...

Do you have a flower garden? You do? Do you love working in it? You probably said yes to that too.

I'm not surprised. I grew up in a family of gardeners and always assumed I'd one day have the same conversations they did, about dead-heading and fertilizer and the like. In fact, if you're a gardener, I'm sure it's actually well past the time you started visiting greenhouses, planning what you'll purchase, etc. That's just how gardeners are.

I tried, I really did, to get into gardening. I admire the idea of communing with nature and helping something go from a sprout to a glorious blooming thing. And I like to be able to say, "Oh yes, my hydrangea this," or "my lilacs that," as if I have a right to call them "mine."

Unfortunately, I've concluded gardening is not for me. Despite my genetics and the reading I've done and the advice I've been given, I could just as well tape a horn to my head and call myself a unicorn as I could call myself a gardener.

Exactly three years ago, I was in the throes of a serious infatuation with the flower garden that was just about to blossom behind our new home. I was going to adopt all these wonderful flowers and have some sort of fairy tale back yard. My garden would be a realm of enchantment and the envy of all the green thumbs in my family.

Except as the season progressed, it became clear that though the plot had likely once been someone's pride and joy, it had been neglected just long enough for the weeds to gain the upper hand.

The garden still boasted an abundance of flowers -- bright pink roses and peonies and daisies and daylilies galore, but had been invaded by thistles and crabgrass and dandelions. And by some nameless gnarly woody things whose roots went to China, I think.

For three springs and summers I tried to discern what was weed and what was not when everything was still small enough to manage, but you know how weeds are. They grow like Jack's beanstalk. They're tenacious and they're tough. I can't begin to count how many times I wound up on my tush, half my floral foe in hand, the rest still firmly rooted in the earth. Even the desirable plants were so overgrown they weren't really pretty.

So I admitted defeat and called in the experts. I had professional landscapers assess the area and draw up some plans. Oh, and what grand plans they were! There were butterfly bushes and blushing roses and blue princess holly -- we might incorporate an arbor or two, dripping with honeysuckle and morning glory -- I could swoon over my garden's potential once more...

But then -- reality set in. The dream garden grew in my head for just a few short days before I realized two very important things: One, all these fabulous plants would require a lot of care and maintenance. And two, I wasn't up to it.

So -- I'm sure I let those landscapers down, but I vetoed all their planting plans. Not only that, we had to have work done on the patio and some heavy equipment was set to roll right over half the garden, so I sent the existing plants packing. The same landscapers that were going to give me a new and improved garden came in and uprooted everything we had.

Now before you faint in horror that I destroyed the daisies, you should know that many of the garden's inhabitants went to live elsewhere. Friends and family came to the rescue, so I could safely say Hasta la Vista to the hostas and know they'd receive proper care.

My plans for the garden did go from one extreme to the other, but we saved some of the best stuff -- the lilacs, the pink roses, some sweet little ferns and of course "my" hydrangea. We still have two small sand cherry trees and the wisteria and weigela wind over and across the fence. The rest will fill in with grass, I hope. This garden is all about low maintenance.

I tried to be a gardener, but my idea of a lovely summer afternoon involves a good book, a cool drink and a lawn chair. It does not include a sun-burnt neck, dirt under my fingernails and being made to look foolish by something small, green and thorny.

Who knows? Perhaps I'll be a late bloomer and attain gardener status in the future. For now, I have stack of books and a lawn chair just waiting for a warm day.