Saturday, March 24, 2012

Garden Surprises

Gardens are a lot like children - if you leave them untended for any length of time, they will most certainly run amok. And that is what mine have been doing for the last six months. 

My gardens, that is. My children have been running amok for years.

Heh. Just kidding. Sort of. 

All winter long, I've been turning a blind eye to what's been going on out there. But today I forced myself to look, and trust me, it was not a pretty sight. Last year's perennial stems were flopping here and there, the rose bushes were full of dead canes and uncontrolled growth, brown leaves from the neighbor's beautiful maple tree lurked in every nook and cranny. 

And the weeds. Holy mother of pearl, you would think those little devils would slow down a bit in the cold, dark months of winter. But I honestly think the harsh conditions only stir up their determination to go forth and multiply with shocking success.

Today was the day that I determined to bring some righteous vengeance to this unholy mess.  Choosing to start with the worst mess first, I charged in to my herb garden with every tool in my arsenal and did my best to quell the rebellion. Here are some before and afters of the battlefield.

This is the view of the garden, taken from my driveway, standing just outside the garage door. The 'before' shot mercifully obscures the onslaught of weeds that were taking over the pavers, especially under the yellow bench. In the right foreground of the 'before', those green bits are a particularly heinous variety of weeds with underground connecting roots that must be loosened with a shovel, and then sorted out by hand. Nasty wretches.

In the left foreground of this 'before', can you see the dead daylily leaves surrounding the new bright green growth? And how about all those brown stems standing on the right? Hard to see in this photo, but the center of the garden is basically one giant mass of dandelion-infused ground cover. I said goodbye to all those evil doers, and attacked them with clippers, rakes, shovels, and my bare hands. 

This hideous 'before' shot attests to more futile brown stems as well as the mass proliferation of leftover autumn leaves. All those brown bits, on both sides of the brick walkway, are deep drifts of leaves that were whooshed away by my Blue Rake of Domination. In my post-battle photo shoot, I was obviously suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and forgot to take an 'after' shot from this angle. Trust me, things have changed in this little corner. {Editor's note - the 'after' photo has now been added. See what i mean?!}

From this angle, up against the gate that leads to the back yard, feast your eyes on the horror of that little bed to the left. A cascade of ugly brown clematis vines spills onto a mass riot of weeds. In the 'after' shot, they are gone and gone. Also gone are two of the slats on my bench seat; notice that one went AWOL last fall, leaving a gap in the 'before' shot. Upon further investigation today, a second board was determined to be failing, so out he came, creating the second gap. But fear not, one quick trip to Home Depot secured replacements and the repairs will soon be completed.

Not bad for a few hours' work. I've cleared away most of the debris, but eventually, more leaves will blow in and the weeds will keep growing. That's just a part of life for a garden. For now, the healthy plants have everything they need to thrive; they don't need any more help from me to grow and blossom as nature has created them to do. And while I don't always love the hard work, I am always rewarded when I see little bits of blooms popping out from under the leaves and among the brown leaves.

In these ways, gardens are again a lot like children. If we parents can occasionally help to clear the debris of bad habits and needless distractions from their lives, giving them healthy conditions they need to grow, our children will thrive and blossom into the people they are meant to be. And we will be rewarded for our efforts because along their winding path to adulthood, they will give us lots of lovely surprises, which again, is just like a garden.


  1. What a productive afternoon! I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with cleaning up the garden. Thanks for the vicarious pleasure and inspiration. I think I'll get a little dirt under my fingernails after church.

    1. Glad if I can provide a little really is such a great feeling to whip a garden into shape, isn't it. On the other hand, I am secretly glad that I filled my green bin to overflowing yesterday so I have a good excuse for doing some different projects today.

  2. Love the garden/children analogy. And thank you for reminding me that me garden is running amok. :)

  3. Better your garden than your children...they are busy earning awards and being awesome. :)


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