(Warning! Not the most interesting post you will ever read. It’s about a longterm relationship and as we know, they are long slogs from time to time.)
A garden is a commitment.
When I moved here nearly three years ago, I wasn’t sure about having a garden. First because there was a nice lawn all around the house, and, second, there is a sprinkler system. I thought, “Wow. Low maintenance. I’ll just have to mow.” This seemed like a break after the 1/4 acre of dirt and foxtails I’d been fighting with for eleven years in the mountains of Southern California. Out of that wilderness — populated by gophers — I’d managed to carve out couple of flower beds, but it was constant labor to keep things under some kind of control. And you can forget controlling gophers…
The first summer I learned I’d rather go at a plot of ground with a pick-axe than mow. I hate mowing the grass. I do it, but I’m out there pushing the mower, muttering, “I hate this, I f@*&ing hate this.”
I understand that a sprinkler system is a labor saving thing and so on, but it turned out that don’t like it. It means one cannot freely sling one’s pick-axe. One must worry about hitting a sprinkler. Raised beds seemed the answer, but what did I know about that?
The first spring, I tentatively made a commitment to a garden. I planted peonies and stargazer lilies that March. The lilies have done well every year (so far)
Stargazer lily, summer 2016
The peonies finally bloomed this year.
Pink Peony, June 2017
I needed to grow tomatoes and basil because I love caprese, and you can’t have that without tomatoes and basil. Home grown tomatoes are better than store bought (as everyone knows) and fresh basil is essential. That winter I had started tomatoes and some flowers in the house, so when spring arrived (or what, with my still-California mindset I thought was spring) I dug two flower beds in the back yard (now the dog’s yard) and put the tomatoes in containers. Everything grew. When fall arrived, I ordered a giant bulb assortment from Breck’s, dug more beds planted spring bulbs, daffodils and tulips and crocus and some other stuff but ran out of space and gave the rest of the bulbs away. Oh well…
Last summer I tried a big fabric raised bed and put flowers in it. I bought tomatoes at the nursery instead of starting them myself. The flowers were grand, but the tomatoes never really did anything.
Last year’s flowers, tomatoes, basil and Rosemary
Meanwhile I’d ordered fancy iris from Brecks and had iris last spring. When fall came around, my neighbor gave me dozens of iris and I had to plant them right away, so now the garden has iris that I will have to move this year, but that’s OK.
My next door neighbor — who is an amazingly talented gardener — gave me some plants so I dug more beds. Then, this week, I found a hardy hibiscus at the grocery store and decided to bring it home and put a little California in my Colorado garden. So far she seems happy.
This past winter I again started tomatoes in the house (I like growing things from seeds), a little too early, but they don’t seem to mind that. When it got (absurdly) warm in March and April, I decided to build the raised bed kits I ordered three years ago. The fabric raised bed looked pretty grim after the winter, so I shoveled out the dirt and tossed it.
I had big plans, but the big load of dirt to realize these big plans didn’t arrive, so it was A Little Lady dragging several 85 pound dirt bags into the back yard. Now there are two raised beds; one is wild flowers (it’s doing too well) and the other vegetables — tomatoes, basil, Swiss chard and zucchini. I’ve already eaten chard from my garden. I remember, now, why a vegetable garden is so great — it’s a supermarket in your backyard. Next year, I’m growing more vegetables.