Thursday, March 5, 2015

Garden Grumblings

This spring is way too dry and much too warm, but it is glorious. Things are blooming early and abundantly, and me trying to stick my head in our clay soil is not going to make it change. It's time to get out there and get some watering done (as pathetic as that is in March), do a little weeding and assess the progress of the Great Garden Plan.

Plants are a lot like clothes in the closet - you remember exactly how much you paid for the cheap ones you got at the thrift store, but you conveniently forget the price of the costlier items. "This dress? Why, I found it at a garage sale for A DOLLAR!" "Oh, these shoes? Hmm, where DID I get, is that a hornet in your ear?" If I were handed the sum total of what we have spent on our yards, front and back, in the last two and half years, I would have to cheer myself up with some shoe shopping at Nordstroms.

I do try to be thrifty. I buy plants in the smallest size buckets, even though the plants in the bigger buckets are snickering at their puny cousins, mocking the size of their root balls. I measure out exactly how big the tag says it will get and plan accordingly, never buying more plants than the space warrants. I check religiously the Sunset's Western Garden book for the correct variety and color and planting zone. In spring I've been known to keep both my Bible and the garden book on my nightstand for quick reference.

With all that, we have experienced the sad fact of plants pooping out, bushes bailing, flowers failing and shrubs shriveling. And those were the ones I investigated and really gave some thought. Here is a short list of plants that are no longer gracing our garden:

  • The very first things we planted out front were azaleas. They were not happy one bit, so I transferred them out back to a shadier location. I hoped they would thrive, but they died. Dead azaleas are not pretty. They got yanked and added to the Green Waste Bin of Plant Despair.
  • We planted gardenias under the window, because I dreamed of the glorious scent of gardenias wafting into the windows which I never open. But they got anemic looking and I transferred them to pots of the front porch. One is growing well, one is barely hanging on.
  • I had planted a camellia out front, along with the azaleas and gardenias. I wonder...could this all be because I felt spending money on a soil analysis would be too costly? Instead, I just sprinkled in something (more $ of course) to build up the acid in the area. And as if on an acid trip, the camellia got wasted. It didn't help that our house is a light color and our house paint has light reflectors added to help reduce fading. All that bright reflection cooked our pretty camellia bush and one day all I found was a dead brown stick. And how much had I paid for that bush?, is that a hornet in your ear?
  • The last really bad decision out front came in a cheap package. On sale for $5 each were some end-of-the-season creeping shrub roses. They actually have done quite well, thrived in fact. I love them, except for the blasted Bermuda grass that grows underneath. And there is no way to get the blasted weeds pulled because of the blasted thorns and the fact that the blasted bush grows in a creeping formation that gives the blasted weeds such a great place to thrive. Can you tell what joy and happiness these lovely plants give me?

This is what I want, this is all I want. To plant stuff in the right place, at the right time, at the right height, with the correct spacing, in the ideal soil, that doesn't need a lot of water, in pleasing colors that compliment each other, that discourage weeds and encourage butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Disclaimer - This is not our front yard. But a girl can dream.

As you can see, I like mounding...


...friendly shaped plants.
And blue, I love blue and purple.
Back to the garden center. How much will I spend?
Yikes, is that a hornet in your ear?