Monday, May 09, 2005

Generous Gardeners

As I’ve forayed into the gardening world, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the characters of my fellow gardeners. For the most part, they are a patient lot. Gardening requires a slower pace than that of the modern world’s. Gardeners are also generous with both knowledge and plants. My beds have grown from the wisdom and experience I’ve found on GardenWeb. I am especially thankful to the gardeners I’ve met at work and in my neighborhood who have shared their plants with me.

Last week, a fellow employee, Patrick, invited me to his house to see his garden and to “load me up” with plants. He instructed me to bring some plastic bags, pots, and bins, but I was woefully underprepared. When I pulled up to Patrick's house, I was awestruck by the landscape. With its varied topography, water features, and stone paths, it looks like a private park. I came prepared to dig up the offerings, but he and his wife had already pulled the plants and loaded boxes full of greenery. We filled my car until I thought it could hold no more and then went on a garden tour. As we walked, Patrick carried a shovel and his wife and I toted a supply of plastic bags. He narrated the garden and frequently sunk his shovel into the ground to portion me yet another bit of plant life. Somehow, we squeezed many more bags of plants into my wagon. It was nearly 9 p.m. when I left. Patrick’s wife advised me to plant them as soon as possible, preferably that evening but, the following day would do. After arriving home, I made many dark trips from the car to the back yard. I placed the plants on the north side of the deck and watered them well.

I’ve admitted that I’m a gardening addict. One more symptom of my obsession is that I cancelled Saturday's plans with my friend Kathy to stay at home and plant. I felt awful, but Patrick’s wife’s warning left me with a dread that the plants would die if not planted immediately. Now that I have chosen plants over people, I fear I have a full blown gardening sickness.

I started planting at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Except for a Pop-Tart break at one o’clock, I worked non-stop until 4 p.m. Planting takes me a long time because I am amending the soil as I go. This is my process: (1) dig a hole, (2) put the dirt in the wheelbarrow, (3) break up the clay chunks with a hoe, (4) add humus/manure, (5) mix it together with a cultivator, (6) put the amended dirt and the plant back in the hole, and (7) water well. It is back-breaking work, but I can’t just plop the plants in my gummy, chunky soil and expect them to live.

Patrick and his wife named each plant they gave me and I assured them that I would remember. However, my brain was soon overloaded and, in the end, all I remembered was which plants preferred sun and which liked shade. By examination, I could guess which plants would grow to be very tall and which plants would be suited as border plants. If I planted something in the wrong place, I can always move it.

I planted perennial flowers, sedums, hostas, and many mystery plants. The front bed is now nearly full. I have open spaces reserved for my winter-sown seedlings. Because the bed is in full sun, the plants are taking a bit longer to recover from the transplant shock. I’ll post a picture when the front bed looks less bedraggled. The bed along the side of the garage (above) is coming along well. I will plant hollyhocks and a climbing jasmine to complete the bed.

I’m very thankful to Patrick for the plants and to Kathy for putting up with me. My current beds are filling nicely. Never content, I have plans to create new beds for next year. I can already hear Mike groaning about my future plant purchases. Maybe I’ll make some new gardening friends who will share their bounty with me!


Blogger deb said...

i've also been on the recieving end of generous gardeners and this year it's me who's giving plants! our neighbours and i often trade plants and seeds... it's coming along beautifully!

keep up the great work!

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the inspiring

10:47 PM  
Anonymous mindy said...


Your garden adventures are very enviable - things are looking great! I am just getting started with the gardening, and am so fascinated by all the options and possibilities. Have you seen

1:57 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

I haven't known anybody who had garden plants that were big enough to split...

How about Saturday I come by with the Shasta daisy I promised (Chrysanthemum superbum 'Crazy Daisy') and a couple of Stella d'oro daylilies? I'll call first, though.

10:41 AM  

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