Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dirt Under the Fingernails, and Other Life Lessons

Obviously by my previous post you can see that time has just flown by around here. We are now in July, and my poor flower garden has been neglected up until this week.

I have a tiny garden budget each year to add flowers and such to my yard, so I tend to stick with perennials that will come back year after year. I know some people prefer annuals and redesign their gardens every year, but honestly I don't have the time or budget allowance for that. So this week I went to Lowe's to see what plants they had on sale (since it is later in the planting time, we got some good deals), and to our local nursery for my annual mulch delivery (yes, I realize I am 3 months late...better late than never). This week, and this coming weekend, we will be expanding our current flower bed by quite a bit. I have this picture in my head of what my house will look like in another 5-8 years surrounded by deep, lush perennial beds. Let me tell you, I have learned to dream big and take it in small steps.

I have learned a lot from my flowers, and the dirt around my house.

Lesson #1: There are no mistakes that cannot be corrected with a little effort. I have placed plants and completely underestimated the growth rate of it and the plants around it. I have divided and spread out plants that ended up to close for good healthy growth. I have relocated plants that do not thrive in the original place for lots of reasons; too much or too little sun or water in a particular spot is a big reason for me to move stuff around.

Lesson #2: Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, color, and budgets. I have spent as little as 60 cents on plants from the clearance aisle and seen them blossom with a little tender care to rival a plant that cost me $25. I have discovered beautiful little gems in my tiny hostas that grew to 3 feet across. A small packet of seeds for shasta daisies that were sprinkled into a corner just to see what would happen, and they become a bright spot in an afternoon shadow. My all time favorite flower, my black-eyed-susans are slowly spreading and filling in sweeps of what used to be bare spots and they don't seem to mind that we have hard clay instead of great soil.

Lesson #3: Dirt and a garden hose makes the best play toys for kids and grown ups alike. Dirt, water, sunshine, shovels... Need I say more?

Lesson#4: Time really does heal quite a bit. Hail damage or tornado weather? Beaten down plants will reach for the sun and damage is soon replaced with new growth. Too much or too little water for a while? Wilted leaves will recover after proper proportions are restored.

Lesson #5: Reading the directions really will save time and money in the long run. Shade plants placed in full sun won't thrive. Full sun plants placed in the shade tend to look pitiful.

Lesson #6: Flower beds brimming with riots of color make for a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the quiet of a lazy summer afternoon. But, it takes time, planning, and energy to get there.

Lesson #7: Weeds and pests are inevitable, and roses have thorns. It takes ongoing work to keep the beauty from being overtaken by a small pest or weed problem. It is easier to maintain if the weeds are pulled out as they crop up than to wait until they over run the garden.

Lesson #8: Maintaining a flower garden is a family affair, and gives time to talk and just be together. Kids help pull weeds, pick flowers , and dig holes for new plants. Life is explored at hand, and they can see the cause and effect principles of life at their finger tips. I think that as an adult I need to be reminded of how simple these lessons really are.

Lesson #9: A $2 pack of petunias can keep kids busy for 2 hours. For my love of perennials, I buy annuals too. These are turned over to my youngest to "fill in where they will look pretty." No rules, no planning on mama's part. I am meticulous where I place perennials because they will come back year after year. Petunias and impatients are happy little flowers that will last for a season, and I let the kids be in charge of them. This also makes it easier to get kids to help water and weed the garden later because they want to keep "their flowers" healthy and strong.

Lesson #10: There are no set rules. My garden looks different than my neighbors'. It makes me happy. I can play with color and texture, and the look is unique to my garden. I pick flowers because they make me smile.

My garden so far is a collection of roses, hostas, black-eyed-susans, shasta daisies, a bleeding heart, bushes, and trees. This week, we have added daylilies, yellow coriopsis, cone flowers, a butterfly bush, more hostas, a clematis, and a few other little perennials that didn't have names on them but they were pretty.

1 comment:

Alta said...

Once you get the dirt off your hands, maybe you could post some pictures? ;)

I have a stamp I wonder if you'd like, it's adoption oriented.