Saturday, June 15, 2019

GARDENING LIKE A FOUR-YEAR-OLD


Well, it's been spring for awhile.  Beautiful weather and the gardeners are out en force planning, shopping, planting, and pruning.  I'm late due to trips, travels, Hub's knee replacement surgery, yoga training weekend intensives.  I feel like I just woke up to spring and it's nearly summer!

Yesterday Hub and I went plant shopping at one of my favorite locally-owned garden centers and I was aghast at what I saw -- nearly empty tables, empty greenhouses, and outdoor spaces with only a smattering of plants.  In a panic I asked if they were going out of business.  Nope. They are selling out as fast as they get deliveries!  The gal said if I wanted anything in particular, I should ask for it and be there the minute the shipment arrives.  I've never encountered this before there.  And it totally goes against my gardening style. How in the world will I know what I want before I get there???

I decided today that I garden like a 4 year old.  I had an overnight guest last night of that age, so I know whereof I speak.  Spontaneous, impulsive, messy, disorganized, confident, confused, impatient, and joyful.  

Today my charge and I went to a local arboretum plant sale.  It's an annual thing, but I'd never been.  Others knew just how to navigate the event; we did not.  First of all, BYO wagon or boxes or "borrowed" grocery cart.  They had a few small wheelbarrows for shoppers, but they were at such a premium that I'd still be there waiting my turn at one if I'd bothered.  We decided that in spite of the great prices and selection, we really could only buy what we could carry.  I got a flat of something small that goes in containers and trails over the edges.  I have no idea what things are called -- "little white flower", my partner said.   She got a teeny, tiny succulent in a stone owl container: $1.00.  Bargain Hunter!

After I took her home, I went to the big box hardware/garden store for more plants.  They have carts. I was pretty successful there, I guess.  I chose some random flowering plants and spent some more money anyway and was able to find real steals on the discounted table!   When I got home and tipped those plants out of the containers though I found they were severely root bound, which necessitated the first interruption of my planting schedule.  

Google is as much a part of my gardening adventure as is a shovel.  

I'm forever realizing how little I know about garden stuff and constantly have to stop and look things up.  I feel this is another of my "adulting" failings.  Women of my age seem to  have been gardening for decades and know all the names of their plants and where to put them, how much sun and water and food they need, and how to troubleshoot the occasional disaster.  I know nothing.

Today, in addition to looking up "how to plant root bound flowers" (shave or cut through the worst and try to loosen the dirt around the rootball), I looked up "soil for succulents" (well-draining cactus mix -- which necessitated me replanting since I'd already planted them in normal potting soil), "do succulents needs full sun all day?" (surprisingly not -- they like a little shade; mine from last year likely struggled and/or died due to overwatering since the sprinkler system hits the container, or cold since I left them out all winter), "how to keep squirrels from eating (my) holly tree" (shoot them (seriously!) or spray the tree with hot pepper oil -- which in my case would be impossible since the tree is about 25 feet tall!)

I make lots of messes too, as I never plan ahead.  Today I watered a hanging basket on the floor of the deck then raised it up overhead to hang it on the hook.  Water started to drain out of the bottom all over my head!  Wouldn't an adult have foreseen this?

I also don't pay attention to soil falling from the pots onto the porch or sidewalk or stone paths; I just dive in wherever the plants and pots happen to be sitting.  Why don't I just move the operation to the grass?

I tend to wear flip flops instead of changing into sensible shoes and I generally wear no gloves (I can't feel what I'm doing with gloves on!), so I'm a muddy, dirty mess when I'm finished, with dirt stains under my nails for days.

Yesterday I cut myself on a disintegrating clay pot and immediately decided I'd now have sepsis.  I don't really trust dirt.  Isn't it, like, dirty?!?  It was bleeding, which I thought good since it would wash the germs out.  I ran in and washed it with bacteria-busting soap, slathered on some Neosporin and a bandaid and waited for symptoms.  None so far.  

In spite of my impulsivity and lack of any real knowledge, I always plant with the utmost confidence that all will be well.  This is some uncharacteristic Pollyanna-ish thinking on my part, but it just seems like things grow here with little tending.  I don't pick any persnickety plants -- just ones that seem to thrive on benign neglect for the most part and keep coming back for more.  I walk through my gardens with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  But really, digging a hole and filling it with a living thing and watching it grow is amazingly easy.  I tip my hat to the gardeners who have figured out the right soil mix for me to buy or create, the right plant for me to put either in the shade or sun, and for a sprinkler system and a couple of watering cans.

This is easy like a 4 year old's life is easy -- someone else is leading, teaching, and talking me through the hard parts (thanks, Google and garden center folk) and joining me in the joy of the result by continuing to make plants available for me to randomly choose from each spring with a big grin of unfounded confidence.  BYO wagon.

At least, that's the view from here...

P.S.  A few weeks ago, aforementioned 4 year old helped me plant seeds in the veggie beds.  All started to grow except the peas!  I was stumped, but figured I hadn't watered enough.  So I went back to the package to grab some more to replant.  The package had never been opened!  Then I recalled, she had to go potty at some point in the planting and that interruption likely resulted in forgetting to plant the peas!  See?  I'm a 4 year old when it comes to being on top of this gardening thing; we'd probably moved on to painting a picture or something.  Another worthy endeavor, albeit messy.  (A theme emerges....) ©