Susan's Blog

Friday, May 9, 2008

Enough, Already, With the Garden Experts!

I am so thrilled with how the front yard garden is going. Yesterday I planted all the stuff I’d bought the day before at Mahoney’s, my favorite garden store and provided them with water using the best hose reel not just on the roots but also on their leaves. Mahoney’s in Brighton (a neighborhood of Boston) is for urban gardeners. It is almost a boutique, but it is just big enough that it has small yards of shrubs, another one for interesting planters, and another one for veggies and herbs, with a large barn full of indoor kind of stuff, as well as the main parking lot area of perennials, the garden’s royalty; and annuals, the garden’s ladies-in-waiting. Mahoney’s used to be located in Cambridge, in an amazing location right off of Memorial Drive, so easy for me to get to, and so full of beauty and potential projects that going there was an event in itself for me (until that blasted Harvard took over the spot because of that wonderful location!). The first trip of the year to Mahoney’s is still an outing worthy of blissful tears, as I enter the winding asphalt paths and duck underneath arbors planted cleverly and seductively with already-blooming clematis or akebia. It smells pink there, or fresh white, and it makes your heart skip a beat with anticipation of unfurling beauty and summer fun.

I feel like an Israeli Sabra, the way I turned the zorn of my sewage-pipe disaster desert into a blooming Land of Milk(weed) and Honey(suckle). I was fretting over the scree-strewn dust out front, and consulting with many different landscape architects, until suddenly one day this week I got tired of waiting. I got tired of $10,000 estimates just to do what I could do myself. After having been in trouble for so long, I’m glad to have visited, now my burden on my garden has disappeared. I was sick of “experts” telling me that my gorgeous old apple tree was half-dead (I prefer to think of it as half-alive) or that I get no sun there (I get two hours of sun, which shines right where Nat’s bus drops him off, so ha ha to you, Mr. Negative-Expert-I-Don’t-Think-So). Or that my current path is too narrow and that my climbing hydrangea should not have been planted on my arbor. Once again, as often seems to happen in my life, the Experts are wrong! Genug schoen with the experts! You can visit this post to know more about affordable tree removal services and make your garden look better.

I got out my spades and rake and gloves (the lavender cotton ones now full of holes) and started getting rid of all the ugliness. Nat helped me dig small trenches for the bulbs Mom gave me, and I took my time (a miracle for me) spacing and laying out where all the flowers were going to go. I carefully chose all the prettiest blooming shade flowers that look as much as possible like their more stunning cousins, the full-sun perennials: white coral bells, white columbine, white bleeding heart, white and pink astilbe, pink hydrangeas, and one dwarf split-leaf mounding Japanese maple to gently oversee the lot. These flowers will always (literally) be in the shadow of the more glorious sun perennials but I think they will do very well in this location and therefore we can overlook their lesser stature and forest-y look.

I made a path in the lilies of the valley, most of which actually came back, despite having been bulldozed this fall to make way for the new pipe. I cleaned leaves out of everything, even by hand, to bring out the full beauty of my little planties. I lay some large stones here and there to break up the lilies a little, too. And now I need to transplant some sedum from my wall, right onto the footpath to give it that winding stone path look, and I need to plant the rest of Mom’s bulbs. And I have decided that pink and white foxgloves will mark either end of the garden.

Ned and I chose some fantastic black wrought-iron gothic-window shaped trellises to cover my neighbor’s garage wall, and I will espalier some shade vines there to complete the area. And perhaps an obelisk with vines right on the empty spot where the pipe project was at its most intense. Unless that would be ongepatchket? Nah — in gardening, more is more. (Actually, in most things. Most of the time when people say “less is more,” they are trying to rationalize not spending money on something that probably needs it, like public education.)

When plumbers and experts give you lemons, plant lemon trees.


Hi Susan,
it sounds like you’re doing a great job starting your garden.My veggies are coming in ok except for my pea rows.It seems like a small creature is eating the new sprouts at night.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, May 9, 2008 at 9:18 am

I loved this. DIY, screw the “experts”

Come on over, I have a small yard you can play with!

— added by Someone Said on Friday, May 9, 2008 at 12:02 pm

It looks just beautiful. I’m still waiting for a night without frost. I’ve got 5 kinds of coleus in pots on the east and fuscia and peach and purple daisies in pots on the west for now. I’m trying to be patient. -Tina G. in MN

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 11:49 am