Reading March’s post about Marie Kondo and what to keep/what to cull brought to mind my garden, and the changes I hope to make to it in the coming months. I have not read any of Marie Kondo’s work because I’m already OCD as hell about folding things like sheets and towels and underwear and socks – and if I had more time, my spice closet (yes, CLOSET. don’t judge!!!) would be even more OCD’d than it is. That type of tidying is a great stress-reducer and in my most anxiety-riddled moments, I take even greater comfort in washing (anything) , folding(everything), ironing (when I’m on the brink? I (gasp!) iron SHEETS!!!). Life is a series of uncertain moments – and while I’m usually okay with the general idea of that, I’m even better able to be okay with it when the things I can control (like my sock drawer) are in order. Sunday night, I am a vacuuming fiend (okay – it’s a small house, so it’s not like I’m vacuuming Versailles. whole thing takes about 10 minutes, tops). Dishes are put away so that when Monday 6 am rolls around, I don’t collapse in a vale of tears at the sight of a cup in the sink. Yeah, I said it – a CUP. It’s Winter and I’m totally off the rails. Bring me a dark hot chocolate and a Valium.
However. The Garden? Whole ‘nother bag of peanuts. It’s not weeds, thankfully (though there are some moments – last July Kay came over and gasped ‘are you trying to grow the State Champion RAGWEED???‘ Omg- is THAT what that is? I thought it was a sumac that, in a moment of addled-mindedness, I’d planted and forgotten about – it’s happened. And, to be fair, she did say that few people (even experienced gardeners like moi) know what actual ragweed looks like – especially when it’s 8. Feet. Tall. (as was mine) because, frankly, it usually doesn’t grow that big in controlled spaces. But this was in the nitrogen-rich Hill Border. Stick a bean in that border. Go ‘head. I dare you. In 6 weeks you’ll be able to go steal that goose.
But I digress. Surprise!
So. It’s not the weeds. Rather, it was….y’know, it sounds weird..but it was the plethora of pots. And myriad plantings. And more pots. Lots of finicky little pots of different colors and shapes filled with gawdknowswhat…….little seedlings that became a bunch of marigolds that the butterflies loved, some salvia I got at Walmart for 88cents because it was manky AF and it was 88cents and I saaaved it and omgosh, the hummers ate that stuff UP….but hot reds next to cool pinks in yellow pots???…and every time I sat in the garden, I got skritchy. But by the time I realized what was harshing my joy, it was too late – the butterflies and bees were all over it.
But I vowed to change all that, come Spring 2019. I’m going Kondommando on the garden (okay, prolly Kmmando Lite because I will see some 88cent salvia and save it and the hummers will love it) – but instead of all those little pots, I will do several HUGE pots of stuff. Or, if I can, I will try to replicate the controlled fabulousness of Mette Krull (I’ve already got my Claus Dalby tulip pots planted). Yeah,okay. Stop laughing! I said ‘try’. The hummers and bees couldn’t care less if it’s in one big pot or 20 teenys – as long as it’s there. Ditto the marigolds and nasturtiums, etc. And I’m going to do more color blocks, which means I will have to be ruthless as seedlings start to flower. Last year I let the Cleome guilt me into letting it stay – and they grew to 6′ and took over 3 beds! Every time I would get ready to rip out a bunch of it I couldn’t because there would be 20 bees and other pollinators all over the damb stuff – but guess what? I’m doing WHITE Cleome this year – so if you’re the pink , you’d better hit the road, Jack. I’ll be waiting for you, clippers in hand.
And nobody needs 1000 Cleome anyway.
And don’t even TALK to me about Mammoth Dill. Every year I’m terrified the dill won’t reseed. And every year it says ‘hold my beer’. and then I have to yank out SO MUCH DILL’!
It has taken me awhile to get to this point but I now realize that there’s no reason why I can’t approach the garden much as I approach my sock drawer and my perfume cabinet – if it’s not only not sparking joy but it’s sparking hives every time I see it, why shouldn’t I pull it together? Perhaps it can go elsewhere in the garden – or perhaps it can go on the compost pile. It’s OKAY to throw out old socks (or use them as dusters) and it really is okay to remove a plant that isn’t right for the space! I finally dug out a Blanc Double de Coubert rose that had died back to the rootstockwhich was that common muddy red that is the bane of
every this gardener – yet I let it stay, throwing out an anemic red bloom here and there...right in the middle of my yellow & white border. For two years! Maybe I was hoping the graft would come back? (lol! I blame drugs. Or bacon).
As with a lot of things ::cough:: perfume cabinet ::cough:: the sheer size of my garden is partially to blame. I’ve designed and planted over 20 gardens but this is the largest space I’ve ever worked with and …well, there was no plan and limited simoleans to make it happen as a plan, so much of it is a result of happenstance (longtime readers may remember the 6 (instead of 3) tons of mushroom compost that begat the Hill Border! lol! and the smoke bush BRANCH I stuck in there to block my neighbor’s roofline that shot up into a 20′ tall behemoth (6 tons of mushroom compost will do that) – but I’ve now gotten over my size-shock and am realizing that, like anything else in my ‘care’ (perfume collection, I’m lookin’ at you!) , I have a responsibility to not let it lose its mind. It has a job to do – and it’s my job to help it do its job. It’s here to provide respite, beauty and calm. Orangey-red with cool pink and 300 little pots ain’t the way.
Kay and I pruned the smoke bush last Autumn – it’s now a Smoke Tree – and it’s gorgeous. Way lovelier than that tangled mess of branches – and I think it appreciates the brutal attention, much like Cher getting her eyebrows done in ‘Moonlight’. Hurt for a mo’ but omg! Such a lovely result. I did the backbreaking work of cutting out and laying new paths back in October and moved (AND KEPT VISUAL RECORDS!) some plants that were just in the wrong place (like in the middle of a path!). Now? I’m hoping Spring will allow me to look at the garden with a critical eye and come up with a more pleasing design.
I’m excited to see what I come up with (I only have about 30 variations in my sketchbook so far and we have 6 weeks to go! lol!). Wish me luck! And watch this space!
How do you approach your ‘garden’ (whatever that is: your sock drawer? books? perfume cabinet? spices?) Is it hard for you to organize/cull? How do you feel once you’ve done it? I just culled my shopping bags of beauty/perfume samples – gave all the unloveds (or just ‘omg I’ll never get around to trying this’) to a friend whose church has a food pantry – they are always happy to have unused beauty samples and omg! I’d love to see the look on the woman’s face who gets Etat’s ‘I am Trash’ – okay, I’m kidding on that one. I’ve saved that for one of you Lovely Perfume Lunatics, so tell me a story and I’ll send the randomDOT winner that one and a couple of other beautiful crazies ( maybe Music for Awhile, which is gorgeous!).