I have recently come to the realization that I’m not a very good gardener. When we first moved to Underhill, being very young and having started accumulating kids, we moved into a wonderful old house that once belonged to Gael’s grandparents. Gael’s Grandma Bessie was an amazing gardener and she started her flower beds in the late 1920’s. When we moved in, in 1961, there were well established beds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what flower was what, so I would have to invite Grandma Bessie’s friends over to, once again, tell me the names of the flowers.
Fast forward a few years and we bought the old farm up the road and eventually built a house there. When we got around to sell our old house, I had to bring some of Grandma Bessie’s flowers with us. It was pretty much a clean slate at the new place, so we dug some beds to put the flowers (temporarily?) in. I moved as many plants as I could. Because there were a number of stones left over from the house, I started a big rock garden. By this time, we started having goats, pigs, ponies, a dog and cat or two.
My time was limited, but I was young and had grand ideas. I moved phlox, hollyhocks, iris, lilies and probably some flowers that I couldn’t remember the names of. Some did really well and others didn’t. To this day I can’t get a hollyhock to last more than one season. The goats we had were “flying-goats” and could jump over or crawl under any fence we built and
they loved to eat (prune?) my flowers. It was an ongoing battle for years. They were really fond of the first daffodils that bloomed in the spring.
But the flower beds did really well considering the fact that I had lots going on and couldn’t tend to them properly. I would read articles about perennial flower beds and the need to separate or divide things. I just didn’t have the time! But the plants bloomed anyway.
I don’t know why but friends were always bringing me plants and because my flower beds were getting a bit cramped for space, I would stick these gifts wherever I could. I also had a rock problem, I couldn’t dig a hole without uncovering rocks. Everywhere!!!
There was one summer when oldest daughter worked at a landscape nursery. In the fall, they were going to toss the perennials out, so she brought home all she could fit in her car, not once but many times. Gael tilled up yet another bed to put them all in (temporarily).
Well, time flies and here we are in 2021. The flower beds are a mess, crowded and diseased. It starts with little green worms on my azaleas. Then. spider mites appear and soon after the powdery mildew. So, I spray everything with whatever I have on hand and hope for the best. Then there are the weather extremes, hot/cold, dry/wet and so on. I’m overwhelmed. It is much easier to mow the lawn, just sit and steer, than to tackle the perennial flower problems.
Flowers still bloom, sort of, and not everything makes it through the winter, but I can’t do much about it anymore. I just enjoy the flowers and weeds that do bloom, and that’s about all I can do. A gardener like Chris Sears, I’m not.