5.18.2008

Green days; or, John, meet Chip, Muffy, Biff & Buffy

This weekend was a flurry of green: a visit to lovely Margaret's paradise of a garden, a Saturday family adventure to what the kids labeled the "garden fair" followed by an afternoon of occasionally frustrated or frustrating planting.

Friday took me to tour my new 'net friend's corner of the earth. As with my class the other weekend at Hancock Shaker Village, the whole thing was almost too much to take in--so much beauty and so much knowledge. I kept reminding her that I know nothing when it comes to plants and gardening, and she was patient with my inane questions and gaping, awed face. I went home with lots of babies to plant and a hope that in twenty years, my little plot of earth might look half as good as hers. I cleverly left behind a bucket so that I'll have to return, soon.

Saturday we roused ourselves for a field trip to northwestern Connecticut to experience "Trade Secrets", an annual fundraiser that gathers boutique nurseries and garden furnishing purveyors in one field of horticultural dreams. And, it was in Connecticut. I repeat the location because, you see, other than the Hartford airport and a long ago trip to my college reunion, the H had never really experienced Connecticut. As he put it, he'd never seen so many 58 year old women who looked exactly alike (think blonde highlights and headbands.) He was also surprised to see the Bentleys and Rolls Royces in the parking lots. I realized, seeing this high WASP, high roller culture through his eyes, that Connecticut is a lot like Beverly Hills, only preppier, and we agreed that though there's much beauty to be found in the Litchfield hills, we prefer our ragged little farm-y county across the state line.

We dragged our bounty (from the show and from the Agway on the way home) into the yard, and started to dig. Thanks to Margaret, I had geraniums, and cannas, and angelicas and others to re-home, and the show gave me some gaudy pink heucheras to throw into the mix. I managed to get a good number of them in, but at a certain point, fatigue and despair took over. My beds looked like crap! No matter how many weeds I pulled, more seemed to instantly appear! I would never get all the hated boxwoods dug out and transplanted to their new home on the south side of the house, where they will help hide the air conditioners....And forget about getting the kitchen garden in. I can't even figure out what is already growing there...The babe took the moment when I was most discouraged to pitch an hysterical tantrum because I wouldn't let her have a Reeses peanut butter cup that Dido dragged home from a birthday party (why, parents, why??? do you give candy in party bags? None of us want to deal with our kids when they eat sugar, so why do you sugar up other people's kids??) After she calmed down (and it took a while) I lay on the couch on the screened porch with a pillow over my face, while the H mulched the (mostly planted) front bed. The rain had started, and the air was soft. Nothing looked that bad, and there's time to do more this week.

I told my mom this story when we spoke tonight, and she laughed. Why, she wondered, do I think I am exempt from learning? Why should I know how to do something perfectly, right away? Gardening is all about learning--I'll learn.

3 comments:

monika said...

lucky girl!

it's the thistle that did me in -- I have a sneaking suspicion that I should have had the top 8" (or more) of soil removed, and started with sterilized soil and good, well-rotted compost/manure. Start fresh, as it were. Wonder if Margaret has any thoughts about that...? (I think I remember Martha writing it somewhere -- either in her gardening book or one of the gardening issues).

And you have my full sympathy about the candy in the party bag -- we had some of the same here this weekend (although The Girl feeds me the sour stuff, so I shouldn't be complaining).

Anonymous said...

Jealous! Soon you'll replace the black thumb with a green one!

I saw a very inspiring woodland garden on her forum from a guy in the south. It's very similar to what I want to do in my woods with the paths, etc. I love her site.

mk

Margaret said...

From the all-wise Margaret, oh right, the secret to weeds is revealed: They win. Now and forever. They were put on earth to teach us our powerlessness. Really.
Seriously, though, there's no end to them, and no way to really get a clean slate. Many "experts" actually say that disturbing the soil to prep it exposes more years of dormant weed seeds to the light they need to germinate, and worsens the problem.
Being lazy, I like that explanation...so now to "prep" a new area I slather it w/thick layers of corrugated or newsprint, moisten and weigh/pin down, then put a couple or few inches of mulch on top, planting right through the layers.
And I weed a lot. Helps to think of it as a spiritual practice, a moving meditation. (Helps to hire help.)