Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Growing Garden Surprises

Skyler, keeping watch in the garden
This year I seem to be growing a Skyler-dog in my tulip patch.  I’m amazed because it wasn’t there last year.  My garden work had always consisted of five minutes of weeding and planting, interspersed with interruptions to throw tennis balls a dozen times for her before I could turn back to my labors.  Weed.  Throw. Repeat.  My Millie, on the other hand, picked a spot nearby me in the grass and calmly surveyed her domain while I worked the dirt.  But this spring, with the death of her long-time companion, Skyler is surprisingly content to sit beside me and watch the world pass by on the sidewalk (read about Millie here).  She has become a welcome fixture in the landscape, filling in the empty spot in my heart and yard.

The rest of my garden brought surprises again this year.  But that’s what they are for.  We are not masters of nature; nature knows exactly what it wants.  This year the tall phlox has (with the determination of a teenager defying her parents, consequences be damned) migrated down the slope where I had stationed it.  A few plants have taken up a close relationship with my bearded irises.  Some of the tribe prefer to become entangled with the wild shenanigans of the yarrow and Russian sage.  They think they’ve blended into the neighborhood, but soon they’ll be too tall and will expose themselves as the interlopers they are.  One lone rebel rises up through the branches of dwarf azalea on the other side of the stone steps.  My original phlox patch is bare except for one singular timid soul that chose to stay put.

And so it goes as the lavender overtakes the evening primrose, which duck for cover under the butterfly bush.  The weedy-looking plant with the giant fuzzy leaves that I almost uprooted as a weed turns out to be the yellow waxy bell I planted a couple of years ago.  It’s only now making its presence know.  My “dwarf” hydrangea at the front of the bed is the size of a Mini-Cooper, blocking the coreopsis behind it.  But I love the surprises I see out my window of a garden constantly involved its own self-renovation project.

I watch the garden that is my children’s lives now with the same eye.  They also refuse to grow where they are planted.  They migrate on a whim, sometimes to locales where they flourish with abandon, sometimes in directions where they risk languishing.  As a mother, I want to dig them up and put them back in the garden bed I had prepared for them, saying, “Here, this is the best spot for you.  I know because I have studied the sun and the soil.  All the gardening books say this how you thrive.”  Yet one day you look out your window and see them in lush bloom under the shade when you were absolutely positive they needed full sun.  And you marvel at their resilience.

A bearded iris, purchased from Iris City Gardens in Nashville

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Renee said...

I can't wait to have 'real' plants
I finally have the sprinklers timed correctly in my yard, and I finally have an herb garden planted this year. I'm also in the process of putting in a new backyard fence. Once that's finished...I'll be able to start planting!

Julie Farrar said...

yes, those automatic sprinklers would be a good thing. Maybe someday . . .

Kristin said...


These are the most delightful and clever words about those "rebels in the garden". I am endeared, inspired, and on my way back for a re-read. (You hooked me from the first sentence. I would love to be able to write LIKE THIS!!!)

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