Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh boy.

I've been doing things in the garden, mostly a lot of getting tired and staring slack-jawed into the distance. Do you do this? I do it in full view of my neighbors, who already think I'm crazy because I'm removing parts of my lawn. I just stare and stare, usually at a spot in the yard where there are no plants. I think of it as "imagining the possibilities." Others might call it "gawping."

I also rigged up this little nightmare landscape.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans'

Way back when it snowed so hard, my poor cryptomeria got all bent up top where it wasn't staked. I thought, "I'll just remove the nursery stake and put a longer one on!" I did that and the tree promptly fell over. And then it started pouring rain and I decided to half-ass staking it and instead use the recycling bin to prop it up. It looked super classy. And it didn't work. All of which is to say, this is a vast improvement! Really.

I've also been moving this euphorbia, which already gets moved twice a year. I can't seem to find a place where it looks quite right and it's starting to suffer for my indecisiveness. It's leggy and prone to falling over but I think the colors are so pretty right now.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

This weekend I spent the most money I have ever spent at one time on plants. I put in huge orders to Annie's Annuals and High Country Gardens (I had coupons!), then picked up the plants I ordered from the Audubon Society native plant party people for the rain garden out front. Then, for good measure, I took a trip out to Cistus and bought a fern and a vine but no agaves, which was stupid, stupid, stupid. Agaves were 40% off and I forgot to claim my Hardy Plant Society discount, to boot.

This time of year makes me feel panicky--must fill dead spaces! Everything is still below ground and I'm already worrying about how much blank space is in the garden. I am like a teenager who can't wait to be older so I can drink and smoke and vote and rent a car. My garden is young and it wants to be older. I've been so preoccupied with blank spaces (that probably won't be blank in two months) that I failed to notice that my pieris is really pretty right now.

Pieris japonica

I started clearing sod near the roses so I can plant my perennial lab. I hate clearing sod, even when it means getting rid of these crazy curves.


I really wish I had used a hose to mark out some gentle curves here. Now this is too straight.

I haven't finished because I got tired and I needed to stare into the distance. Maybe I'm just struck dumb because I caught a whiff of my daphne.

Daphne odora 'Goddamn it, why didn't I document the tag?'

Anybody have a sod cutter I can borrow?


  1. I completely understand the standing and staring at the garden. I've learned to put benches or places to sit in the garden so that I don't look so weird standing there staring. Instead, I'm having a peaceful calm moment amidst my beautiful garden (that's what I like to think it looks like when in actuality, I'm taking it in, making a mental checklist of what needs cutting back, removal, deadheading, pruning, pest control etc but at least I'm sitting down).

    We have dug turf out, but I have to tell you that I learned that landscaper dudes have turf cutter removal thingy machines and that you can have someone do that strip in 5-10 minutes. Just sayin'....

    And finally, I love seeing plants in your garden that I have too. Blackbird Euphorbia. Love. Mine reproduced a baby!

  2. Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one! And I hope you realize that the reason you see your plants in my yard is because you advised me to plant them! I always listen, so your hand is very evident in my yard. I'm excited to get more input next month. :)

  3. You have described so many of my behaviors and thoughts in this post, it's eerie! YOU'RE IN MY HEAD! Seriously, though, I often stand in our front room, staring out the picture window at the front garden, and realize after an unknown amount of time that our across-the-street neighbors are out and waving at me and probably thinking I'm insane. (Not that turning our entire front yard into a perennial garden wasn't crazy enough.)

    I also feel your blank spaces/young garden pain! I'm such a cheapskate and I am so satisfied by growing things from seed -I hardly ever have bought anything but baby plants. I tell myself I'm working on being a more patient person...

  4. This is why I love gardeners. YOU ARE MY PEOPLE! You know that someday Fine Gardening is going to do a spread on your yard and how you grew everything from seed. I caught myself hissing at one of those landscaping remodel shows the other day. They had trucked in the HUGE plants and everything looked mature overnight. It's not fair! They didn't earn it!

  5. How I can sympathize with a garden that is young and wants to be older! Panic. Open space. And nothing will ever, ever fill those barren empty tracts, until one day it's all too crowded and you will have to dig things up and take things out. I do sympathize with you, I really do. Been there. Five years ago.

    I LIKE the straight edge on the border. It's just not that big a sweep, and can't really handle wide glorious curves. Go with the straight edge. You have a street and driveway and other straightish elements, so use them as complements, and keep this border nicely edged in a line. Otherwise you will be back to snaky curves.

  6. I definitely gawp at my garden! Such a funny way to put it but so true. We have a pool, and in the summer, when it's too hot in Austin to do any actual gardening, I'll just float in it and gawp for while at the garden, thinking and planning...

  7. I'm sorry what was that I read? YOU DIDN'T BUY A SINGLE AGAVE!!!??? And I thought I'd managed to use my secret spaceship powers on you and had completely pulled you over to the spiky side. I guess I'm going to have to try harder.

  8. I didn't want to buy any until I'd had you over to consult. I am definitely playing for Team Spiky.

    And! Greg hates going to the nursery with but he really liked Cistus and told me that he'd get more interested in gardening if I planted agaves. I just need help working them into my yard so it's not like a cottage garden . . . with a random agave!

  9. I love floating and I love gawping. That sounds just about perfect!

  10. Ha...you're not alone! Norm makes fun of me all the time for standing outide, hands on my hips, surveying the garden...and ALL the things I want to change. I generally try to pretend I'm actually doing something useful when someone walks by...but not always ;-)

  11. Laurrie, you are the best garden cheerleader. I appreciate you so much!

  12. I've always thought that if you gave cellphones to those poor homeless men who talk to themselves downtown that they wouldn't seem so crazy--they'd just look like your normal jerk with a bluetooth. Maybe we should invent something for gardeners, like a hologram that makes us appear like we're watering or bird-watching or something.

    But it really makes me feel better that I'm not the only one who does this!

  13. I KNOW! Seriously, it's insane to me to think of buying all fully grown plants. (Then again, it's insane to me to think of a lot of things that people with money to burn probably take for granted.) And Fine Gardening is welcome at my casa anytime! :D

  14. Long time reader, first time poster. I think it's especially awkward when I'm gawping at my garden, and a neighbor stops to say hello, and I immediately apologize for whatever shortcomings I was noticing in my yard. "Oh! Hello Yvette! Don't worry about that ugly spot right there next to the porch. Those hydrangeas will fill up that space, I promise!"

  15. LOL! I do that with weeding my hell strip--I'll get this all cleared out soon! I could never live in an area with HOA restrictions. What if my neighbors actually had a say in what my yard looked like?

    Thank you for commenting :)

  16. Next time you feel foolish, let me know and I will tell you about falling out of the car while getting the mail...really.

  17. Oh man, I would LOVE to hear that story. I do that kind of thing all the time. I think I need to go that agility training for German shepherds. I'm gonna break a hip one of these days. (::knock on wood::)

  18. Jane Finch-HowellMarch 21, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    I do a lot of my standing and gawping closeted in my back garden so no one can see. This does nothing for my front garden, which is even more desperately in need after five years of being shunned in favor of the secluded back gardens. And Lelo is right, those sod cutting machines are AMAZING and FAST. Maybe the North Portland Tool Library has one to lend?

  19. Last I checked, the tool library doesn't have one but they aren't all that expensive to rent. At this point I'm more wondering how many months it would take to parcel out the sod from my front lawn into the yard debris bin without the garbage guys noticing! :)

  20. Oh, yeah, your cryptomeria rig is a familiar type fix; expediency rules. Also familiar: staring into the garden, wondering where to start and how to accomplish the impossible tasks piling up. Your neighbors probably whisper: "She's thinking really hard; she's an artist, you know."

    Hey, those pieris blooms sneak up on you, don't they?