From the Producer 2/16

Grubby fingernails, unite! Right now it seems like we can’t work fast enough to keep up with the plants, so I’ll be spending significant time outside this weekend. And even though I’ve installed only a few plants, I am so pleased with the refreshed nandina/photinia-ville. Every time I walk out the front door, I think, “This is so wonderful! What took me so long to make the change?”

As I pruned and mulched last weekend, I came closer to making the plant decisions. But just when I’m sure I have the right idea, I change my mind again. I can narrow the list by site, soil, and water needs, but still, there are so many options. In fact, when I was writing Skip’s notes for this week’s web, I looked anew at bulbine, a plant I love in my backyard, and said, “Bingo! That’s just the touch of orange/yellow to tuck into the front.” So, guess who gets divided this weekend?

And, I’ve decided that I’m giving up on pink skullcap as a border accent in my garden after years of trying. I love it, love it, but I just don’t have the right conditions
(well-drained). Instead, I’ll wait until the last frost, and then plant more Mexican heather, which will fit the bill without all the problems. It freezes to the ground, and for some people or in some years is an annual for us, but already, my current ones are coming back up. They can take the conditions I have in mind: brutal sun part of the day, shade the rest. They’ve never drowned on me, and don’t have an issue with drought either, if they get a bit of water. They’re tidy with little lavender flowers and never need anything except pruning back when they freeze.

This creative compromise and new looks at an old space is a good process that keeps the brain cells alive. In gardening, like in life, no matter how much you know, there’s always a new twist.

And one of those twists is that gardeners get SO much information! Actually, I’ve come to believe that political debates are pablum compared to those waged by gardeners. The agendas, trends, and solutions are as volatile as those in an election campaign. And when it comes to being “politically correct,” gardeners can be very vocal, if not downright indignant, about the “right” way to garden.

Once I got an email from someone who ranted about ponds, when the world’s population lacked for water. He sniffed at container plantings, since how could “a pot be a garden?”

I’ve heard every platform on the “right way to garden.” Natives vs. tropicals; food rather than ornamentals; manicured over cottage style; straight lines or curved; formal metal vs. scavenged rocks; Southwestern plants or African violets. I’ve met people whose neighborhoods won’t allow them to have a shed. I’ve met others who designed sheds as an integral submission to their garden’s personality.

All these issues can scare off people who simply want to put a plant they love into the ground (or into a pot!). So, as moderator, I say, “Pooh pooh on the issues. Just go dig a hole and have a good time.”

Still, I do campaign on an organic and resourceful platform, since plants, the wildlife, and the rest of us will benefit in both the short and long term. There really is no reason to mess up the earth that we’re trying to beautify.

In the end, whether they believe it or not, gardeners are united on one issue: to make the world around us more beautiful and more wonderful. I don’t use the word “wonderful” lightly, because every gardener who digs a hole makes something that is “full of wonder.”

Until next week,