Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Neglect and Forgiveness In the Garden

I'm really not sure when I lost track of how many days I had spent away from the garden. There was work. And 90 degree weather. And no rain. And a lot of Sunday Fundays. Weeding was difficult in the baked over soil, and planting was impossible. A few new planters were filled. Tomatoes and beans planted, but other than that I really didn't do much this year.

 It seems like ever since the move I feel very settled, but at the same time completely unsettled. I've physically settled down (fine, there are still a few boxes under my bed that need unpacked), but there are so many other things happening in my life that remain unsettled I've become rather crazy and neglectful of some of the things I love. The poor garden has taken the brunt of that neglect.

With the break in the weather and several days of good, soaking rain, I took a stroll around and sort of took stock. There are so many things I want to change. The White Garden experiment might fall by the wayside as I simply expand the Shade Garden. And maybe a stand of Oriental lilies by the vegetable garden, both for cutting and for drawing in pollinators. The Berry Patch needs a complete overhaul, and I need to read up on pruning gooseberries and currants. The greatest thing about creating a garden is that it never ends. You are never finished. Much like people should be, a garden is a work in progress. There is always the need for a place for something new. If something fails, there is always another plant that needs to be divided that can fill it's place.  Always changing for better or worse, but the worse always made better. 

If only my own "work in progress" was so easily accomplished.

I was happy to see how good the garden was actually doing after weeks of heat and very little rain. There are purple beans and wax beans in abundance. The pole beans are just starting.

Last year we thought all of our Naked Ladies (or Surprise Lilies, or Resurrection Lilies) were doomed because so few of them bloomed. This year there are three strong stands of them around the sunny part of the garden.

The elephant ear in one of our new pots in the Hydrangea Border is doing amazingly well. I've ordered another type of alocasia called 'Megalodon' from Logee's that should be coming soon. It will have the rest of the summer to build up some strength before moving in for the winter.

Another one of the new big pots in the Shade Garden filled with begonias, sweet potato vine, and silvery helichrysum, or licorice plant. 

Another pot with the same ingredients, as well as some impatiens, sits in a bed of lily-of-the-valley.

The fig trees are producing slowly. All of the figs in their pots were moved to the front of the Berry Patch this year, and most of our tomatoes this year were planted in pots and placed along the back of the Berry Patch in an attempt to get them more sun. The raspberries themselves did rather poorly this year, so I am thinking about taking them out and starting over with one each red, black, and golden raspberries. This might also allow room for some black and white currants. 

The "upright" elephant ear I smuggled back from Charleston several years ago continues to come back strong every summer. This pot, filled with the elephant ear and a mix of coleus, sits at the South "Entrance" to the garden. You can get a better look at the plain, sturdy, brown clay pots we found on sale and bought up.

What we now consider our Cutting Garden runs along the south side of the house and it has completely blown me away this year. We have never grown zinnias with such long, sturdy branches. The plants themselves are so tall, and the blooms are enormous. 

My 'Dwarf Cavendish' banana tree has also put on quite a growth spurt. He must like his new summer location in the vegetable garden. There are a ton of off shoots in the pot, but once one plant flowers and creates bananas (which I hope happens soon) it will die and be cut out to make room for the next strongest stalk.

Agave have captured my attention the past few years, and now I hunt around for new varieties. This one gave two pups last year that I potted up and they are already growing quite large.

I have three of these lighter green and shorter leafed agave that were found in disarray on a clearance shelf. 

Out in the vegetable garden the little patch of several varieties of basil somehow made it through the drought and is actually thriving.

Pole beans on one of the heavy duty tomato cages we inherited last year.

We will be able to start picking these in a few days.

Another look at the purple beans spilling out into the path. I was lucky enough to spend several hours yesterday weeding and weeding and weeding. It sounds funny, but the mindlessness of the chore, coupled with the instant gratification of seeing an orderly vegetable bed, is like balm for the soul. I needed it, and the garden did, too.

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