NOTE: This post was drafted in early April, about a month ago. I have been waiting for the spring blossoms to show themselves as I laid down bucket after bucket of mulch. Now I have pictures to share along with the words. If you like, feel free to skip the words.
Gardening is a passion of mine, and this time of year can be overwhelming as well as exciting. I was up and out early today, weeding and mulching. The roadside garden on the farm has been, as they say, years in the making. It started as a small perennial bed near the driveway with the usual daylilies, irises and hostas. But it quickly grew, expanding along the road to the opposite edge of the property. Now, after close to five years of work, it is mostly complete except for the wildflower bed I have planned, and the seeds for that are just waiting until the evening temperatures get above 50 degrees. That means the ground will be warm enough for them to germinate.*
A bad hip kept me from finishing the full garden over the past three years. I tinkered around the edges and even tried paying people. But no one was willing to get on hands and knees and dig up wire grass for what I was willing to pay, and I just couldn’t do what needed to be done. Last spring, I did better but was still recuperating.
This spring I am back and better than ever. I get into the garden beds for some time every day and for hours on the weekends. Seeing them come together in ways I could only imagine have made all the work worth it. And, the lovely finishing layer of mulch reveals the garden design, highlighting the plants that, for now, are just getting started.
This year, I took a before video on March 21 when I was just getting started.
And then again on May 14, 2021, which just happened to be my birthday.
It wasn’t just my health that kept the garden from completion. I lacked the finances to simple buy a garden at the home center in one fell swoop. I paid for or was gifted a few unusual (read expensive) plants, worked with my husband to raise things from seed (his particular gardening super power), divided plants, swapped plants, and plundered bags of perennials at the local dollar store. (They are cheap but tend to have a low success rate.)
Here are pics from early spring through yesterday:
I was fortunate to grow up in a family, really a community, of gardeners. Small, neat kitchen gardens were common. I have a family photo that features my maternal grandmother’s peach tree in her urban garden in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When my paternal grandmother died, we discovered dusty jars of canned vegetables and fruits on the basement shelves, enough to last several lifetimes. My father always had a vegetable garden in the communal garden at the high school and continues to cultivate roses and orchids even into his 80s. My mother canned and froze the produce from the garden and even now takes advantage of living in central Pennsylvania to buy locally grown vegetables to preserve. She also makes her own ketchup when the tomatoes are cheap and sweet.
There is something satisfying about engaging with living things from people to animals to plants. Plants bring the bonus of digging in the dirt, an activity that I suspect many of us enjoyed as kids. Even if you don’t have an outdoor space or want to make time for a large garden, container gardening is a possibility whether it’s radishes and greens on the patio or herbs on the windowsill.
I am also a fan of the odds and ends garden. You can put those bits of potatoes with their eyes sprouting into dirt, and you will get more potatoes. They like sun and a deep pot where you can mound dirt as they grow to get more potatoes. You aren’t going to feed the world, but you will get enough for a meal or two and they will taste wonderful of dirt and sunshine and rain. You can experiment with celery ends, onions and garlic, too.
* I planted these seeds on Monday, May 10, and am happy to say they are sprouting!