Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gardening Brain

I have a bad case of what I'm calling gardening brain. Over winter, while the natural world went dormant, so too did my thoughts about it, leaving me free to think about the rest of my life. But now, for the first time, I'm landscaping, and it's overwhelming. It may be a small yard, but I'm dreaming of looking out my window and seeing greenery and flowers everywhere. I've planted a few things in pots before, but now I'm going back to my flower strewn childhood roots and putting things in the ground, and it's become a preoccupation.

It began in February while it was still snowing, and I created spreadsheets outlining overambitious plans. I sketched out a map that I'm mentally reevaluating as I go along. I'm puttering around in the yard getting too lost in what I should plant where, in what pot or what bed. I'm moving plants around and reseeding when things don't come up quickly and trying to decide whether it's worth it to plant another kind of vegetable seed or pick up another ornamental plant. Evan says he'll get mad if I move another plant around, and then I make him dig holes so I can do it anyway.

On my daily bike rides through the city, I'm paying attention to what's growing in a way I never have before. I'm noticing not just that the daffodils and tulips are up, but the less showy plants next to them too, and how they're arranged. I'm realizing that landscaping is a personal choice chosen from endless possibilities, like fashion, and I'm trying to absorb inspiration from everywhere - from the shady brownstone front yards, the sidewalk planters, the foliage peeking through the fences of community gardens, from walks through the botanic garden. You can be lazy and have a few shrubs or pansies in mounds of mulch or you can work lush magic. I see all the plants and I want them too.

But it's early spring, seeds are in the soil, little sprouts are coming up, my yard isn't thriving yet, and except for the bulbs, there's just a lot of dirt. I'm impatient to know how it's going to grow. I could speed things along by buying lots of already grown plants. But the problem is that gardening can get expensive quickly. As a renter, I'm trying to balance my desire for all the plants with the reality that I'm frugal. There's a wide gap between what I would do if I owned property and what I should reasonably do with this rental property since I don't even know if I'll be here long enough to see the perennials bloom next summer (probably, but who knows). I don't want to invest too much of my time and money - just enough to have enough prettiness.

So I'm sowing seeds, buying starts selectively and reminding myself to wait and see. It's all an experiment, and I must be patient and happy with the daffodils that are blooming and not sad at the dirt that's not.


  1. I know the feeling - our garden has taken over our minds and days. We just had our first casualty of our eggplant (hopefully the culprit doesn't come back). Our dog walks are now spent eyeing the neighbors' yards. Can't wait to see the progress.

  2. My flower beds are just bursting forth with new life! It excites me every year. I never tire of seeing the flowers emerge from the ground and the bushes leafing out. :) I love your pretty little bleeding heart. My grandmother has one of those and it's huge. So pretty.

  3. Yay gardening!