I think it’s been said before that weeding a garden is like editing, getting rid of what is excessive, creating more room for the essentials to grow. I first heard the editing metaphor from a wise friend who applied it to her home. Instead of using the trendy concept of “decluttering,” editing her space made it sound more mindful, more serious. So, I edit the garden as autumn comes with its cool weather, right on time. The geese, the ones who leave, have returned, and primary colors of summer are fading. So much in the garden was attacked by downy mildew and black spot. I let the crabgrass alone, and it grew in a verdant lush. So today, I waded in, and pulled out dying purple-flowered mint lookalikes, and pushed upright the oregano which was beaten horizontal by a storm, uncovering tender rosemary and chocolate mint.
The previous gardener planted the oregano, the sage, and thyme. I added dill, more lavender. The bees, honey and bumble, are feasting on the oregano flowers, and the catmint. After the oregano dies back, I am thinking of clearing some to plant another rose, a strong scented one like Gertrude Jekyll, or Jude the Obscure. I think I’ll add more white flowers next , for the effect at night. The success I had with white cosmos planted with seed my first summer has never been repeated, and I think I will move on.
Editing. What can be reined in, what can expand to fill the bare spots? And how will the end match the spontaneity of the spring, the opening? I would like to bring in some orange for the autumn. There is an American beauty dahlia that is quietly blooming, and the purple Diva made its emergence last week like Barbara Streisand at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant staircase in Hello, Dolly!
Maybe, next time, a grouping of one kind of dahlia, instead of lonely specimens. Geraniums in the front. The experimentalization giving away to the tried and true. For a kind of subconscious closure, I planted some sweet peas among the morning glories, and they are about six inches tall, their tiny tendrils looking to grab onto something.
It’s all about death and dying and rebirth, isn’t it, the seasons, and literature?
My summer project, aka Avoiding the Revision, is clearing some brush out back. Full of creepers, vines, and Poison ivy, I have been donning long sleeves and gloves, and applying a newly acquired set of lopers to the woods. I now understand how the pioneers must have felt felling trees to create homesteads. The sound of the lopers cutting through branches and roots is chillingly satisfying. I barely made a dent, despite filling a garbage bin half-dozen times to lug to the compost pile. Still, when I raked a narrow edge in the woods to reveal leaf mold and dirt, I was thrilled. There is now a small, liberated wild honeysuckle tree. The thorny vines that were not roses that were never to be roses, are cut and release their grasp on the flowering trees.
I envision native plants: trilliums, mallow, maybe woodland bulbs. What I’d like to is create a small oasis for the eyes, hang trailing flowers from the dead tree limbs, scatter bluebells and lily of the valley at ground level. A hammock and a book could be very nice. Why, one could even revise there.
bought a long garden fork
dug the ground, made a furrow one inch deep, planted, and watered
Stuck some long twigs in to net a string support…
–Oh! I was looking for an illustration of twine, and googled “string, garden”, but ommitted the comma. This was what I found: string gardens!
“For a while I wanted to make animated videos with crocheted landscapes which were a kind of 3-dimensional spider web covered in moss and grass” says van der Valk. “The idea was to create bonsai-esque plants. To keep the landscapes really airy, I decided to work with hanging plants.”
“Van der Valk uses a deft crocheting stitch to whip up the “frames,” so to speak, for his round masterpieces. He then impregnates them with different combinations of moss and earth which help the spheres to keep their shape. Some of the string gardens are mere fistfuls and some are massive – all are beautiful.”
Sweet peas growing on strings.
Regardless if one stays or goes, the garden must be planted, if only to provide beauty and pollination and fragrance a few brief months. In went the herbs, the annuals, the seeds. My neighbors and I will have salad with edible flowers, and maybe some one else will provide tomatoes. In the back, late autumn vines will open up with color. The columbines are nodding, the violas brighten, and foxglove emerges confidently. I have sprinkled love-in-a-mist, alyssum, poppies, and hollyhocks in between plantings, and will not pull any weeds except the most identifiable to give the green shoots a fair chance. Somewhere, inside one of the Shakespeare plays, is a gorgeous piece about flowers, about cowslips and lilies. For years, I put off adding a roses, thinking I will not be here long enough to enjoy them, but last year, I rescued three, and they have survived the terrible winter, as has the dicentra, clematis, cinnamon ferns, and sweet william. Why is it writing the name of flowers gives as much joy as being in the garden? What are you planting and tending? Let’s compare garden notes.