Friday, September 12, 2003

Just got home from another too long day. My Fearless Leader suggested to me that it might be a good idea to water my garden, so I did. You know, though I really didn't know what in the heck I was doing when I started on all this - I am really pleased with the results. Took to nearly autumn, but what a sweet little flowerbed we have in the front of the house. The zinnias (just bought a packet of seeds because they were on sale) are now starting to flower - big, puffy, red ones. The cosmos, relegated to the little patches I transplanted them to, are as tall as I am and full of light purple, pink and white blooms. The marigolds are green bushes with *sparks!* of yellow, gold, red, brown. I like to think that my two grandmas are keeping an eye on the yard (and me) as those were their favorite blooms. The dragon's blood has taken very nicely - it's developed into a creeping patch of something like low lying hen and chickens. Very strange plants, but quite pretty and understated. Not to mention sturdy. I love my wax begonias, geraniums and firecrackers. Will have to remember them for next year. In fact, if I could bring in some of the first two to keep me happy during winter and to transplant next spring - that would be nice.

Moving around among my charges tonight, giving them their drink and deadheading the ones that needed it, I got to feeling Sort of like how I would feel if I were to take the time to meditate again. Along with this state of well-being came a few conclusions about gardening, at least on my plot:

1.) Mulch is a girl's best friend. The more mulch and compost you mix into your soil, the more water is retained. Very good when you get periods of up to a month without any rain.

2.) Starting from seeds isn't as difficult as one would lead you to believe. Some of my prettiest plants came from seeds: the zinnias, the sweet little purple alyssum, the marigolds, the cosmos. I'm going to save some flower heads like I remember my grandmas doing and see what I can grow from them next spring.

4.) Share and share alike! Raphaella gave me marigolds last year that really cheered up things this summer. I gave away at least 75 hostas all over the neighborhood and brought back some herbs in exchange. This is another great, cheap way to mix it up in the garden. It's also just fun to share. Especially green, living things.

5.) Deadhead! Deadhead! Deadhead! Your blooms come back in profusion if you keep up with this.

6.) Don't get hung up on blueprints. Let nature drop some stuff here and there. I had a little volunteer jade plant pop up under a hedge. Marigolds and cosmos peeped out in the most unexpected places. This all added to the lightly structured chaos that I was sort of aiming for. I did download some free patterns for sun and shade gardens from the farmers' almanac, but really only for a sketch.

7.) Something catches your eye and it's cheap? Go for it...Often what I'd do is, on the way home from work, check out anything new and on sale at the local gardening place. If I had a spare $5-$10, I'd buy as much of it as I could and then plant it whereever I had the space. Yes, this is the magpie approach (bright and shiny! bright and shiny! mine! mine!), and it did result in sort of an organic crazy quilt, but I always was partial to crazy quilts.

8.) You can always try again next year if you're not nuts about what you did this year.

Some stuff I'd like to try: Maybe plant some more bulbs and incorporate bone meal into the soil. I planted around 150 bulbs this year and maybe 1/2 of them came up. Of those, 1/2 of them actually bloomed. It could have been the lack of sun and all the rain we got in the spring - but I wonder if my soil's too packed. I'll give that a try. A cold frame might be fun for me to attempt to raise my own seedlings. Oh, and maybe no vegetables this time. More herbs. They're darn easy and they smell wonderful.

Yes, one must tend to one's garden.

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