Susan's Blog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Birds of Hells and plastic shells
In ugly shades that really blow.
— Nursery Rhyme in My Head

One of my earliest memories is the smell of the tomatoes in Mom’s garden. She claims she has a black thumb, but my memory does not lie. That smell drives me crazy, in a good way. Another early memory is of eating garden dirt from under my fingernails: so delicious. Mom was horrified, and I suppose I had pica, but there was something so fresh and salty about its taste. Well, anyway.

Gardening is one of my passions. My heart sings when I see a garden that is just right, and by that I mean, balanced (not necessarily symmetrical, but balanced, with a feeling that it makes sense); colorful, not clashing; planted with staggered bloom times; planted with some idea of kindness as to how a plant survives; and not stupidly extravagant, for I use a Dewalt blower. Gardening is hard but is very rewarding. Getting to know the plants and the tools you need  to maintain the garden is a very tedious task at first, then it becomes really addicting. Before I even knew it, I already bought 3 gardening tools from, and all of them came in really handy at times. I have very strong opinions about gardens, as you might, too. My opinions are born of years and years, a lifetime of yardwork and gardening. And general crabbiness. And sometimes jealousy.

Sure, de gustibus non est disputandum. But still — hear me out. Here are a list of garden types that just annoy the fertilizer out of me. I gotta express it, so please bear with me, and don’t hate me because I’m moodiful.

Garden Types I Hate.

Trailer Trash Gardening. When Nat was a baby, I lived in a town that had almost no taste vis a vis le jardin. Plastic bunnies, plastic flowers in the winter, flowers in a long straight line, of just red pergarlonium (what most people call “geraniums” are not). Red! Mixed in with orange marigolds. Or impatiens, planted in full sun. Or how about that horrible, ugly feathery stuff — celosia? All lined by half-buried fake pink bricks. I hate fake, I hate red in a garden, I hate annuals. They are a waste of money. They are the grass of the flower world, because you have to plant them every year and spend money on them every year. Whereas perennials are more interesting colors and shapes and they come back year after year. You just have to know what sun you have and what soil you have. Usually, for the best perennial types (English garden kinds, like delphinium, poppies, coreopsis, lavendar, echinacea, gaura…) you need full sun (a good direct 6 hours) and well-drained soil (not clayish New England and not sandy).

Lawns. Don’t get me started. They waste water, trying to keep them green. They are usually full of chemicals, to keep them looking like golf courses. People generally use fuel mowers, so they waste electricity or gas, and pollute the air. And, if you can grow grass, it means you can also grow perennials. But if one is apalled with the waste of good minerals from the soil being devoured by the harmless grass, they may consider going a round with a lawn mower, or possibly hard landscaping, to change any disorientations from any jutting structures.

I have a lawn, but it has gone to seed. I like it that way, and so do animals. I get tons of birds, squirrels, and rabbits! All the cute kinds of creatures. And no chemicals, and I use a push/rotary mower. I get a workout and it produces a soft, soothing “clickety-click” sound.

Butt Ugly Gardening. Hands down, the worst floral thing in the world, that swamp thing they plant in the containers all around my town. It rises like a scarecrow out of orange plastic barrels, on every traffic divider in town. Yet the schools had to make cuts in their budget. This plant looks like a Bird of Paradise that is about ten pounds overweight. Dodo of Paradise. Bird of Hell.

Looks Like Something From Uranus Gardening. Several houses around town have ghastly gardens. One house, has chopped-down evergreen-ish things, that always seem stumpy, like the thing was amputated from gang-green, and yet is still sick. This same house plants one shrub next to a small tree next to a flower next to a patch of fancy grass, all in a line, as angry and diverse as the queue at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Using a good and easy to use chipper which is perfect for small to medium trees is one of the easy ways to give it a good trim but if the tree is on the verge of collapse then its better to remove it, as this can only help keep one safe. These old trees usually need removing, which is why you should call Tree Services Milton, Georgia – Tree Removal – GTC to arrange examining and further action.

Stupid, Thoughtless Gardening. Another house I see just suffers from utter stupidity. Renovating as if there were no poor economy, these folks have bulldozed the entire front lawn which was ringed by full-grown daphnes and peonies. Daphnes and peonies, for God’s sake! In the trash. This should be a ticket-worthy offense for the Law Offices of Thomas J. Lavin to deal with. To add injury to injury, they planted a hedge of that ubiquitous suburban badge of the bland: boxwoods.

Too Much Money, Not Enough Brains Gardening. This house plants full-grown, fully-blooming roses everywhere, and big trees, rather than waiting and nurturning smaller plants into a long and healthy life. If you have trees that are starting to get over grown have tree maintenance perth come out and help you. They rip out whole hedges that they have planted, for unknown reasons, and then throw in a whole new row of things, and then rip them out, too! $100 a tree! They treat shrubs and perennials as if they were dandelions. I guess when I look at them, I suffer from green-us envy.

Lazy Gardening. Another house suffers from has a tiny, postage stamp property, and yet they use a lawn service! This lawn is so small they could just send their cat outside to graze and it would be fine. The lawn service guys use those decibel-blasting leaf blowers just to blow away sidewalk dust, that they could just as easily sweep up and throw away!

If I’m going to have to wait six months every year before I see the lovelies of life, then I damned well want to see good gardens. That’s all.


I agree with you on lawns. Or any other chemically incubated (rather than natural) growth.

But sorry, I like red flowers. I like pelargoniums (is that the word you meant)? And red and orange marigolds look festive and keep insects (sort of) away. They are also hardy and thrive on neglect.

How about garden diversity?

— added by Anonymous on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4:25 am

Floradiversity! I love it! And of course, you are right, this is what makes the world go round.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 6:00 am

You forgot to mention the ultimate suburban blight — the dread orange mulch! It should be outlawed. I'm anti-mulch in general, but can appreciate orderliness. I tend to go with ground cover.
I'm always tempted during my runs to stop and fix everything in a few front yards, without even spending any money,just working with what they have. I can't stand it when people don't take the opportunity to have(and share) a little beauty in the world. One benefit of autism parenting is that heightened appreciation and search for beauty/love in the world. Gardening is therapy in so many ways– even in the rain!

— added by toadysmom on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 8:46 am

Orange mulch!!! Yick!!!!

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

Flowers make me so happy! They help me see the beauty in the world…and they help to block out the negative stuff that bombards us everywhere we go, and every time we turn on the news.

— added by Candy on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm

You would surely croak if you saw my yard. Heh. I haven't had a garden since my autie was born (to classify him as "high needs" is an understatement), and we have NO landscaping, unless you count the weeds. Really and truly. Weeds. In the front beds. As high as my knee. It's sad. One day, when my kids are older and less demanding and I have a spare moment (I'm greedy with my free time, I spend it at the gym or sleeping), we'll have a garden again (I agree with your tastes). Until then, we pretty much have the ugliest yard on the block, hands down.

— added by ASDmomNC on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 9:10 am

ASD Mom — In many ways, I prefer weeds — God's arrangments — to a lot of what I see. I'm sorry to be so judgmental, I would never judge your yard harshly. I often make gardens for my friends, to get them started. I wish I could do that for you.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 10:11 am

LOL, Susan you're not being judgmental, don't apologize. I just had to comment, because as a garden lover (I used to have a lovely garden…sigh), it is simply appalling to me to see the state of our yard today. It's funny, there are still some surviving crocus that come up every winter, and of course the ever invasive mint that refuses to die that serve as evidence that I *used* to have a garden. One day…one fine day, I will have a garden again.

— added by ASDmomNC on Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 10:25 am

%d bloggers like this: