My Garden Sows Content

The sweet peas are out, but the cornflower will remain for awhile

Life is full.

Since my last post we’ve celebrated three family birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and my oldest son’s graduation from college. My youngest son came home from his first year away at college and my oldest son moved home mid-June. Somewhere in there we took a two-day getaway to Las Vegas after Mike finished a big work project.  Next week I leave for a long-anticipated trip to British Columbia and Alberta. I’ll be traveling with my friend Kelly, a dear friend whom I met through blogging nearly eight years ago. I am really looking forward to this trip.

Through it all though, my garden continues to sow content.

We had some brutally hot days in the low 100’s (104 F or 40 C), but it has settled down into cooler temps.  During the heat wave I arrived home to wilting hydrangeas and burnt ground cover. The flowers recovered but the ground cover is done till the rains return.

On the subject of rain, we had the loveliest, late-season rain in May, bringing about larger and taller flowers, fuller blooms and a short-term delay in the unbearable heat. It was such a gift.

I spent some early mornings this week pulling out the spent Nigella, also known as Love-in-a-mist and the sweet peas. I let both of them go to seed, reaping the benefits of a self seeded garden each spring. The cornflowers are the last of the self-seeded spring flowers. The bees are still pollinating the remaining blooms while the birds swoop in for the seeds.

I’ve been musing to myself that some of my garden favorites are the ones that return year after year with no effort on my part. They attract birds, bees and admiring neighbors. I get several month’s worth of small garden bouquets, and enjoy sharing the bounty with others.

Now that summer is here, our plums are ripening and the four o’clocks are about to bloom.

My miniature Hobbit garden, planted a year ago in celebration of my New Zealand friends and hosts is also robust.

I’ve added a tiny rusted table and a few flower “lights”, a gift from my friend Laura. I noticed this week that a tiny violet has self-seeded near the Hobbit door. We’ll see how it grows.

The tomatoes are looking promising this year!

Over the years people ask “is your garden a lot of work?” and the answer is always the same. Yes, it can be back-aching work, bending and lifting, pruning and pulling weeds, especially during the hot days of summer.  But the work is joyful. It’s not so much the ends but the means. I love working in the dirt, discovering new things, seeing what works and learning from failures. Working closely with nature is uplifting.  I marvel at the different shapes and sizes of the bees. I’m honored when a hummingbird comes close, inquisitive and open. I hear the rustle of the lizards and hope the cats will let them be. I laugh at myself when I’m startled by a spider, but I’ve learned to manage that fear while respecting the gifts they bring to the garden. A few ladybugs came for a visit last month and polished off the invading aphids. These are some of my favorite examples of nature at her finest.

I get dirt under my fingernails and sometimes in my teeth. Bruised knees and a sore neck mean I’ve stayed out too long. It takes me a lot longer to get up from the ground, and the pain in my hips reminds me of my advancing age. It’s all worth it for that time in the garden where I find a real connection to this earth.

Laboring in my garden sows content.

 

 

 

31 thoughts on “My Garden Sows Content

  1. I love all your gorgeous pink flowers! I’m with you on the soul-satisfaction you get from gardening, the unexpected pleasures and even the aches and pains that tell you some good work was done. I took out the dead heart of an azalea bush that had been allowed to grow very tall, sparse and leggy. It looks odd, with flowering branches still gangling all over the place, but I can’t cut it all the way back till the flowers are over. The gap that’s left is big enough and shaded enough for a small water feature – I can’t wait.

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  2. I always think of you with a wry chuckle when I am undergoing that multi-step process of getting up from the floor while vainly searching for that lost youthful spring…… I’m thinking a possible solution to the problem is to refuse to go down there in the first place….

    Your garden is a joy and I like how you have used the word ‘content’ in both its meaning of ‘a collection of plants’ and its gift of ‘inner contentment’. Gardening has so many health advantages for the body and soul as well as our senses and I have many memories of you deeply entering into silent communion with different gardens, plants and flowers.

    I hope your brutal heat abates somewhat, or at least gives you a chance to dance in the rain now and again. You still have a lot of summer to go. Today we have a brief respite from the dark and dreary days of winter. The sun is shining and the air is warm – hope rises once more πŸ™‚

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  3. Celebrations!!πŸ’• This post just makes my heart sing, Alys! Happy family celebrations of all kinds filled the past months. Your lush, beautiful garden is a celebration of the abundance and contentment nature can bring to our lives. Now a celebration of friendship awaits! Enjoy every moment as you explore Canada and make new memories together. Safe travels, my friend!πŸ’—

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  4. That kind of heat is awful no matter when it comes. I’m not looking forward to it so, like you, I go out early. There is so much literature about grounding or earthing that states the health benefits from planting parts of our bodies on the ground. Maybe we just need to stay down there longer to heal those darn achy parts. πŸ˜‰ I keep a staff/stick close by to help me up and grateful no one is watching the comical process. The gardens are worth the agony. πŸ˜‰ I do envy you your trip to BC and give Kelly hugs for me. You all have a rolicing good time. With all you have had going on, you deserve a little down time. That was intense! Graduating from college is huge. Then all the rest added in! Still love the Hobbit garden and house. Hugs and love. Take care of yourself. M

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    • I like that phrase “planting parts of our bodies on the ground.” I hadn’t fully thought of it that way but it’s true. I even have a little hiding place where I can sit in my garden on a low step and listen to the birds, the wind rustling in the leaves but remain undetected to a casual passerby. I treasure it. I like your idea of a walking stick and think that might be a good idea. I have a kneeling device with handles, but it’s heavy so I get careless about dragging it along with me. I like your idea about staying down there longer. I can remember as a girl lying flat on my back in the dirt or on the grass, in the sand, wherever, and looking up. We lose a lot of that as we grow older, but a garden always brings you back to the earth. I just delivered your hug to Kelly. We’re getting ready to head out after a quiet morning in our room. Yesterday we walked, and dined and shopped and carried on until midnight. We were tuckered out.

      I’m glad you enjoy the Hobbit garden. It’s a fun reminder, daily, of that amazing trip. Love to you, Marlene.

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  5. Absolutely gorgeous Alys – you should be so proud of your garden – wish I could see it in reality – I would love a wander around. We could not grow veg like you by the pavement as we have so many dogs come down our road and the owners let them ‘wee’ all over our plants – would not be nice on any veg.
    I have the similar aches and pains of age now but I carry on regardless. Spiders are OK for me but frogs send me into panic if they jump out on me.

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    • I wish you could pop in for a stroll as well. When we had a lawn we would often find deposits from cats and dogs. This is why I created a raised bed along our curb garden instead of planting directly into the ground. It seems to have kept the “leftest-lifters” at bay. Carnivores do not make good fertilizers. Now if we had a grazing cow strolling by…

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  6. I had to laugh at Lynn/Tialys’s comment! I was getting all warm and fuzzy, reading your beautiful words about weeding . . . then she brought me back to reality! But those last two long paragraphs are written beautifully! What a fun life you’ve been leading–I can’t believe your son has already graduated from college–four years went very quickly. But, then time does, doesn’t it?

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    • Thank you, Kerry, for your kind words. Life ebbs and flows, but I have to say that I am really enjoying this time in life. It’s amazing to suddenly realizing your “babies” are both capable young men. I’ve found the perfect blend of family life, volunteering, part time work, travel, writing and of course my wonderful garden. Now go ahead and get those warm fuzzies back. Those weeds never rest! πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you, Sara. I know you love gardening too, and you have a shorter window in which to get things done. That said, I have unplanted seeds and I’m kicking myself again for not making a written plan. Time gets away from me. I wanted the garden to look nice for my son’s graduation, so we put some energy into a few projects, while others took a back seat. I also tried sunflowers and pumpkin seeds in a seed starter mix outside and I simple could not keep them moist. Both seeds prefer direct sow as they are legging if started inside, however, direct sow also means snacks for the squirrels.

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  7. Oh Alys, my thoughts entirely! I ache after a day’s work outside but I don’t see it as work. I don’t go to a fitness studio, I don’t jog or play tennis, I garden instead! LOL! A swallowtail butterfly accompanied me today while I was outside (with no camera of course!). Your front garden looks so pretty, and I bet your neighbours stop to look every time they pass by. Have a great trip with your friend. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes! I knew you would get it, Cathy. I also get the “why don’t I have my camera” moments constantly and I try to tell myself to just enjoy the moment (I do) and not worry about future blog posts. (LOL).

      I’m in Victoria now and having a lovely time.

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    • I had the same thing happen yesterday – I was bent over planting one thing or another and looked up to see my first tiger swallowtail of the year on a lily about 2 feet from my nose. I just sat down (slowly) and watched the show. i know I was smiling like a goof.

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  8. Hi Alys, I hope you had a wonderful trip with Kelly. I went with a friend to meet her mom a few weeks ago, we laughed and sang and chatted away. As always your garden is BEAUTIFUL! It has been so hot, humid and off and on rainy here I have done very little this year. We have had two trees fall during storms, both while Stephen was away, and cleaning them up is a brutal chore. I did get a fun little surprise in that some of the petunias I had in a planter last year self seeded into the rocks around our patio. I didn’t know they do that. I left them even though they look funny. I know the joy ( and heartbreak) of watching a boy graduate from college. Aaron got a job offer his senior year and lives in Omaha so we only see him once or twice a year. I love the hobbit garden. I had the tree man leave a stump so I can make a wishing well. We’ll see if I get done, might wait til fall for cooler days. Have a wonderful trip, if you are not already home. Love ya

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  9. PS WOW on your hydrangea. It’s lovely. Mine has not flowered for three years. At first I thought I had trimmed the wrong part or in the wrong season but now I think it’s stubborn. πŸ˜’πŸ˜…πŸ˜‡

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      • Thank you for this article. It had some useful information. When it didn’t bloom the first time I asked our local gardeners group about it and they said I cut the dead off and not to trim again. The next spring we got two heads of blooms but they were down on the ground. The last two years, nothing. The plant gets large beautiful green leaves but not one flower. This year after a big storm my husband and I were walking the property and as we came around the front I just cracked up when I first saw the hydrangea. No storm damage but the deer had snacked it down to the stalks. All I could do was laugh. It has started to re-leaf but no blooms. Of course I don’t expect any this time of year. I have never had a green thumb and this kind of thing frustrates me no end. I have a butterfly bush that has been in the ground for 12 years and it gets few blooms but it has stayed the size it was when I planted it. Same for three box woods we put in hoping they would grow up and cover a spot in the yard where you can see the street. They are pretty, healthy and haven’t so much as thrown out a wayward branch. Oh well. Come stay with me and fix it all. πŸ˜€

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        • Oh Amy, your frustration is palpable. We don’t have to contend with deer here (we’re too much in the suburbs) but we do have tree rats and squirrels. The squirrels are so well fed next door that they only head over here to hide their stash. We have a prolific orange tree and that keeps the rats fat and happy. Funny that! I wonder if you’ve ever had your soil tested? It might bee too acidic or too alkaline for what you’re growing, or it could be “dead” soil in need of amendments. All three issues are easy to fix with amendments. You can do something called side dressing, wear you add rich amendments along the side of the plants, then gradually turn into the soil. It makes it’s way down to the roots. You can buy inexpensive soil testing kits at most garden centers and if not, online. Sometimes the soil is too compacted so the plants don’t die but they don’t spread and thrive. If it’s a very old garden, that could be the problem, too. All that said, here is a funny story for you. I was bemoaning the fact that this was the first year in over a decade that the squirrels didn’t “plant” any pumpkins. After removing the last of the spring nasturtiums, Mike helped me fill the planter box with cactus/succulent soil. We planted succulents and they were off. Within two weeks three or four pumpkin plants sprouted in the soil meant for cactus! They’re growing well and flowering, but no fruit yet but sill. There is never a dull moment in the garden.

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  10. Tis me, now visiting you πŸ˜€ Everything looks beautiful in your garden hon. Shamefully, the sweet peas are my favourite, LOL. I just love their scent. I moved the snapdragons from your window well in the guest room to the deck railing and was happy to smell their gorgeous scent too. I sure wish we could’ve sat out to enjoy the garden, but you would have gotten home full of welts. Dang mosquito’s !!
    I’ll never know the wonder of re-seeding. That’s quite the amazing thing. Who doesn’t like free flowers? It must take some control not to head out to clean up the drying and dying plants and let them go to seed each year. I tend to tidy up the garden before it snows. No such worries in sunny California πŸ˜€ xo ❀ K

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  11. Alys, I’m so glad you accidentally posted both this and the scrap-happy blog post at the same time. I got a double feature! I so seldom go wandering in the blogosphere lately but every time I do I find lots of fun and resolve to come back more often. Hope the remainder of the summer brings you all that you want and need most!

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