Thursday, March 22, 2012

The "I Don't Care If This Lives Or Dies" Approach To Gardening

Some of you may have recently heard me mention (more precisely seen me post or comment) that I have come to the conclusion that I hate gardening.  Don't get me wrong ... I love gardens.  I love looking at various flowers & picking them to put in my home.  I love the scent of flowers & of freshly tilled earth.  I love seeing the butterflies flying about.  I love eating fresh veges I've grown myself.  These things are great things!  It's the work involved in gardening itself that rubs me the wrong way.

You can see a photo of our front yard at the top of this blog.  This photo was taken the summer we moved here.  Since that time we've planted quite a few trees & bushes, made a few garden beds, & had professional landscaping ... which turned out to be poorly done ... around the foundation of the house.  You can only hook so many hoses together to water things.  For the rest you need to drag buckets of water (2 buckets at a time) here & there, there & here, to water them.  Since the summers have been pretty drought stricken these past 3 years you can imagine what we've been up against.

Gardening here means getting outside in the miserable, oppressive, never ending central Kentucky summer heat & humidity which seem to hang over us like a death shroud morning, noon, & night.   It means dealing with the miserable, oppressive, never ending central Kentucky sun beating down on you & from which you can find no escape.  It means battling the gigantic central Kentucky spiders ... mostly huge ugly brown things although there are a few menacing looking fat bodied black ones with white dots on their backs.  Then there are the black & yellow striped ones the size of a saucer who like to hide deep inside or back behind a plant & then terrorize you by charging out & coming at you like a semi zooming down the interstate.  It means wearing tennis shoes, long pants tucked into socks, long sleeved shirts tucked into pants, long sleeves tucked into gloves, & spraying or rubbing yourself profusely with some sort of Tick Away product which in the end doesn't keep any ticks away but instead is probably alternating the makeup of your cells in some freakish way.

John & I had quite a vision planned for this place ... the Hill botanical gardens.  Alas, it was not to be so.  In the summer of 2010 we got so tired of pulling weeds that multiplied like rabbits & lugging buckets of water hither & yon in the aforementioned miserable, oppressive, never ending central Kentucky summer heat & humidity that we gave up the fight.  One day while mowing the yard, disgusted with our unreached goal of gardening nirvana, I decided to just ride the mower over the rose garden.  The rose garden had grown so high with weeds that you couldn't even see the rose bushes anymore but I knew they were there.  It was very cathartic to hear the crunching of the rose bushes as I drove over them ... not once, not twice, but several times with the mower blades set at the lowest level.  I wanted to make sure those bushes where totally obliterated.  Imagine my surprise last spring when there they were ... 9 little rose bushes, healthy & happy, reaching toward the sun, growing like the weeds that had overpowered them the year before.  I was both surprised & horrified.  I mentally revisited all the places we've lived where I tried to grow beautiful rose bushes, babying them with special foods & soils, just to see them quickly wither & die.  Yet here in the devil's playground I totally ignored them ... mowed over them for pete's sake ... & they were flourishing.  I didn't let this deter me.  I did not want to deal with the never-ending water buckets & weeding in yes, that miserable, oppressive, never ending central Kentucky summer heat & humidity again, so once more I ignored the roses & mowed over them every time.  So now it's the spring of 2012 & do I need to tell you how these roses are once again mocking me?  Yep, they're out there ... healthier & more lush than any Jackson & Perkins award winner.  Argh!!!

Last summer my husband had a weak moment & bought 4 new rose bushes at a local nursery.  Impressively beautiful, fragrant things.  He brought them home in their pots, set them in the corner of the driveway, & that's where they are still.  Granted, it hasn't been a terribly cold or icy winter but since being put there they've gotten no care whatsoever.  I noticed today that all 4 of them look like they could take a best of show prize in a rose bush competition.

It's not just roses!  Last year we bought & planted some bee balm & a couple daylilies.  One pot of daylilies & one pot of bee balm actually had a few offshoot plants growing in with it so I removed them, placed them in small pots to grow a bit, & then ignored them.  They've been sitting on the back porch ... in total shade ... being ignored like the rose bushes.  I would sometimes look out the back door this past winter, see them sitting there & think of how I would be gathering up the pots in the spring & throwing them away, but no ... they are growing profusely. 

I don't know what to make of this.  Ignored things are flourishing all over the yard despite their neglect & even deliberate abuse.  Is there some sort of magical property in our heavy clay/rocky/grub infested soil that plants crave?  It's a mystery, that's for sure.  I know that in the past I've dumped gallons of weed killer on the weeds in the gardens but they don't die.  John & I look & marvel at how, only a few hours after dousing them with weed killer, these weeds look greener & healthier than they did before.

Since we are planning to sell the house we decided we couldn't let the the landscaped beds & flower beds be overgrown with weeds & likewise we couldn't let those rose bushes languish in their pots in the driveway.  This morning John & I ventured outside.  He spent time cutting back the decorative grasses & I worked on weeding a bit of the foundation beds.  It went surprisingly smoothly although tonight I feel like someone took me out & beat me with a baseball bat.  Unused muscles are unhappy muscles & they protest loudly when you make them do things they haven't done for a long time.  I must admit the beds look nicer without the weeds.  At least they won't scare away prospective buyers.  Thankfully no spiders or ticks were encountered (still in their winter slumber perhaps?) & I even found a strange thing growing among the weeds in one area which I realized was a peony that was planted last year & then withered & presumably died as fast as it was planted.  The lemon verbena bushes which the landscaper planted amazingly survived & are blooming & smelling sweet.  I cut a small bouquet of branches & brought them inside & I'll leave you with a photo of one of the blooms.  Still playing with my camera you know   : )



jennifer768 said...

Evening Shirlee,I had quite a chuckle reading your delightful post.Yes the heat and humidity can be a bit oppressive here in Ky. at times.Isn't it funny that when you give up on something that it flourishes .I really need to get back to weeding my flower beds before the weeds completely take over.Love the blooms and I bet they smell wonderful.Hugs,Jen

marly said...

I enjoyed the post, even though this arachnophobe will have nightmares tonight, and never touch a plant in her garden ever again. Glad your weeding was uneventful!

marly said...

Just as I closed my comment and passed another verification test, a large fast black spider came out from beneath the sofa. Goodnight! I'm outta here!

A Primitive Homestead said...

I just had to chuckle. Not once but more you mowed the rose bushes off. I see a potted plant along the road waiting with the garbage some sit out & I am swiping that thing up. Finding a place in my gardens to call its home. I must say if I never tended a garden I would never want to after hearing you describe all this. But it sure sounds like no matter what things are surviving. God luck selling your beautiful property. Blessings!

TheCrankyCrow said...

Trade you snakes for spiders???? Not that I'm a HUGE spider fan, but I've (unintentionally) have gotten close and personal with several tarantulas (and live to talk about it) - and I'm betting my snakes are bigger than your spidies.... ;o) Oh my heck girlfriend - you had me laughing from the git-go. I can't grow a rose bush in Nod for love nor money - if I had all the cash back I spent on those things (or even just the Zone 3 "hardy" varieties) that have inevitably croaked, I could buy your humid hot haven in Kentucky. But, b/w you and me and these blog walls - I'm SOOOO with you....I LOVE gardens....but I'm beginning to think, gardening not so much. I think I'm just too dang lazy. But there is a bed behind our garage I do have tackle...left it alone the year they resided the house (thinking I'd do it when they were done, but, duh - it was the LAST side they did); then last year it just plain ol' scared me.....but this year....ummmm...something has to be done. (Wanna come mow over some stuff???) ;o) Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

Cleejoow said...

and that's why I live in a row house with a small garden with only grass in it :)
thanks for stopping by my blog. It's always greatly appreciated

Paula Nunes Lima said...

There are people blessed with the gift of gardening (my father was one) and then there are us, the ones that love to look at gardens, smell flowers, eat good veggies!!!
The roses are much tougher than we could all think! Maybe you have a new "brand" of roses. We can name them: "Tough Hill Kentucky Rose"

Vickie said...

Oh Shirlee, I was chuckling til you mentioned the spiders. AAAAAAAAAHHHH! I don't do spiders. I kill or grab a husband or son to kill every one that I can. There are too many of them in the world I think. I almost sweat thinking of your big ones. Help! I have been slowly getting the garden beds in order. Have to take a day off here and there for pain relief.

Michelle said...

Oh Sirlee I don't do spiders at all - I can;t imagine how big they were. Beautiful day here in the UK today - off to do some weeding later xx

Angela said...

Morning Shirlee, I so loved this post. I absolutely HATE outdoors. I go out only to get in the car. Thank goodness Mr. P. loves outside. He already has onions and potatoes planted in the veggie garden. And last night he and Darbee Rae brought in flower cuttings to make an arrangement. So I am blessed to reap the benefits of HIS labour. We are having rain and storms here this morning. Hope you are planning on a nice weekend spent with John.

Peggy Lee said...

Morning Shirlee,
Spiders I can stomp on but that snake that was sneaking up the driveway last week scared me half to death. I'll think twice about reaching in to the thick ivy again!

I am always the one who is cold in the room when everyone else is too warm so I prefer it when the weather is hot.

I can't garden anymore because my back can't tolerate the weeding. We support the excellent farmer's markets in our area for fresh veggies. We bought those Knockout Roses for our flower beds. You don't have to do a thing to them...just plant and enjoy!

Minnie said...

Well I don't envy you the gardening, your home is beautiful but it does come with a lot of work. We live in a condo and I just sit on the balcony and watch the landscapers work mowing grass, trimming hedges and weeding flower beds. My hubby still thinks he's farmer Gray with his lone tomato plant on the balcony every year. We enjoy one or two cherry size tomatoes from his harvest and are happy.

Dawn said...

That is a great story! Sounds like my house plants! We are anxious to garden here, some flowers have already bloomed but I love it.

bettyj said...

I think you need to quit worrying about selling and concentrate on writing a book.

butterfly said...

Great read Shirlee,Thanks for sharing.
Just past on the Liebster reward to you, hugs.