Category Archives: Gardeners

Garden Resolutions 2020

front gardenTaking stock. That’s what this day is for.  In the garden that is. 2019 was a “getting to know a new garden” year. It was for removing plants hiding under other plants. Last April I found an azalea stuck behind a giant laurel and an out of control juniper. I dug it out and even reaped an extra plant from a branch that had put down roots and sent up a baby. This April we’ll see if they bloom where they can be seen under a pretty stand of pine.

daylilyLast summer Stella d’Oro daylilies popped up under the same overgrown laurel and juniper. They were moved into sunny spots along the driveway. Those daylilies I know will thrive in 2020.

This fall we dug out four knockout roses that, although they bloom lavishly, didn’t justify their place in the front garden. I admit to not loving them so much since they are everywhere in our community and as hybrids are not good pollinators. They were replaced by evergreen cherry laurel, variegated boxwood, dwarf elegans spruce and a spreading juniper in a lovely shade of blue.

Digging out the overgrown junipers, euonymus, and laurel will be one dirty job in 2020 but will make room for a new patio and deck. Researching a suitable design is the plan for the next cold months.

A pleasurable task I’m looking forward to is establishing rock gardens among the piles of rocks on each side of the driveway. The spot gets relentless summer sun so it seems perfect for stonecrop, sedum and Mediterranean herbs. Last summer I tucked lavender, sage, thyme, lemon coral sedum mexicanum, hens and chickens and Irish moss in spaces between the rocks. Hopefully some will gain a foothold and overtake the weeds that are so comfortable among stones.  I remember the perky portulaca in my grandmother’s rock garden and will sprinkle some seeds among the rocks in her memory. That’s the thing about gardens. Life in the Garden bookPenelope Lively in her book, Life in the Garden, says:

“To garden is to elide past, present, and future; it is a defiance of time.”

I confess I had to look up ‘elide’. It means to merge. What a nice idea for the first day of 2020. I was taken back to my grandmother’s 1950’s kitchen where something tantalizing was always on the stove and the screen door leading to the rock garden was close by. And the path through it led to the grape arbor and the chicken house beyond.

The Gardener’s Anatomy

I just finished whacking to the knees some kind of ornamental grass that grows about ten feet tall in the summer and waves its dry, feathery heads at me all winter. I don’t like it. Well, I do like it from a distance, I don’t like it next to my driveway where poison ivy can hide and stalks fall over to get in the way of cars. Its circumference ever expands while its middle slowly dies away.

But my personal battle with ornamental grass is another story. My subject here is my own anatomy and the anatomy of gardeners in general. It seems that evolution has not been on our side. I spent a couple hours bent over, shoulders hunched; I pushed my fingers to the limit hacking away with the garden shears. At the end of the session I brought the grass to its knees but I was a wreck.  If the fates were more considerate, gardeners would not have stiff backs that don’t bend very far. They would have backs like inch worms that can perform an effortless 360.

gardebers anatomy picture

Now that I think about it, there are a number of evolutionary developments that would greatly enhance a gardener’s life. To begin with, we should have wings. That would save a lot of unnecessary trampling on helpless plants when a gardener with only legs and size ten feet tries to reach the back of the bed. How lovely it would be to hover overhead, reaching down to pluck a naughty weed without disturbing innocent seedlings that have recently pushed up their bright green heads.

If wings are not an evolutionary option, I would vote for telescoping limbs, both legs and arms. Although not as perfect as the wing evolvement, it would enable swift and orderly handling of many garden chores, particularly if we were given more than two arms. Let’s say four. A gardener may be on the way to deadhead a bed of pelargonium, only to notice that the periwinkle is being choked by wild strawberries. One telescoping arm could pull up the nasty berries while a telescoping leg could hop on over to the pelargoniums to give another two hands the deadhead job. With one more hand ready to work, there is no telling how good that garden could look.

As it is, evolution has turned a blind eye to gardener’s needs by giving us only two clumsy feet and one stiff back. The current state of garden affairs leaves us lowering our head and hands as far down to the ground as possible and propelling our backsides into the air. That is not a pretty sight for the birds effortlessly flying overhead.

Am I Too Old to Start a New Garden? A Sort-of Flowchart Questionaire

  1. Do you like to garden?

No, my back is killing me. I’ll buy a recliner and stay in the house.

Yes, puttering around outside makes me happy.

    2. Will anyone help you garden?

No, my husband grew up in an apartment in NYC where reaching into his pocket to tip the Super was his preferred exercise.

Yes, but it will have to be someone besides aforementioned husband.

    3. Are you too old to garden?

Yes, 75 year old’s should do the least amount of exercise they can get away with.

NO, getting dirty on my knees makes me happy.

    4. Will you be able to keep up the garden?

No, it will become a weedy eyesore.

Yes, I’m too stubborn to give up.

  5. Once again, aren’t you too old to learn new garden things?

Yes, for sure. I’ll get two recliners and join my husband in front of a really big TV.

No, let me die on my knees doing what I love.

    6. Do you care about composting?

No, that’s what landfills are for.

Yes, it kills me to see my banana peels rotting in a black plastic bag.

  7. Do you have enough space to garden?

No, grass is all I have room for.

Yes, a gardener can garden in a window box.

    8. Do you like your grass?

Yes, I like paying $50 a week to watch a man race a loud machine  over my crabgrass.

No, I could use that $50 for more plants.

9. Should you start a new garden at age 75?

Who am I kidding? I belong in a recliner.

Yes, I’ll do it.