Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More Fun!!

Notice I used exclamation points and not question marks after "More Fun!!"

Although not a resolution, I think deciding to have more fun in your gardening endeavors this year is about as perfect as it gets.  Let's talk through a different kind of garden fun:

Eliminate all plots of garden that have become too much to handle.  My friend, Kathy, has done this and at the time I thought she must have lost her mind.  DECREASE areas of beauty - Nooooo!  Alas, Kathy figured out if you can't take care of it, it is no longer a place of beauty, it is a burden.

It doesn't mean you throw beautiful flowers into a dumpster or composter.  Donate them to friends, public gardens or have a tag sale and donate the proceeds to your local garden club.  Or, combine them into other beds.

It's doubly hard for me to embrace Kathy's "less is more" because I've been an advocate of mowing less by the use of heavily mulched perennial beds.  It's still a good practice, but, the rub is when you can no longer (physically, time or money) keep the beds worked.

An alternative to sowing with lawn grass seed is to sow with a grass that only needs mowed a couple of times a year or never.  And then, the ability to look at that grass and embrace it's casualness and not give in to pressure for perfectly groomed.

The alternative of planting a wild flower/grass garden is not exactly maintenance free.  It takes good soil prep to make sure you have no competition for the native plants and either a burn or fall mowing to keep the seeds active and weeds/trees/shrub starts from taking hold.

Another alternative is to pack perennial beds full of very hardy varieties.  It still takes some weeding and mulching but if done right in the very beginning, it will be less work.  This will work better if you don't live in a rural setting where weed seeds are blown, migrate or are dropped by birds.

An indicator your gardens have become too much is:

If you walk outside and begin to feel stressed because things aren't done. 
You're embarrassed all summer when someone drops by to walk your gardens. 
You can't sit in a chair on a beautiful day and enjoy your yard because the tasks are so many. 
You can no longer lift a bag of mulch, fertilizer, a full wheelbarrow, or pile of weeds.
The kids you hire to help actually do more harm than good.
You can't afford to hire competent and dependable garden help.
You can't take a good flower picture because there are too many weeds in the way
You can't be on your knees, bend over, or use other parts of your body without hurting - always..

For most avid gardeners, our life has been spent adding more and more beauty to our spaces.  We try another variety, another color, and another space.  To change that life long journey can seem sad and the beginning of the end.  In reality, it is simply another beginning.  Remember the point of most ornamental gardening is the enjoyment by the gardener. 

It's not failure to change our gardens to our present condition - it's what gardeners have always done.  We've always had to deal with changes:  weather, disease, pests, product failure, soil nutrients and etc.  If you've reached the point where you need to make changes to your gardens that involves easing tasks, face it headlong with a gardeners spirit.  Downsizing isn't failure, it's another design and adventure!!           

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