For the Love of Gardens—It Takes All Kinds
It’s August 7th and my yard wouldn’t qualify for one of those garden tours you can sign up to take. No, it wouldn’t even be on a runner up list. Unless it’s a different kind of tour—“Wild and Free” or as a promotion tour “See Why You Need Us”.
This hasn’t been the case all summer. The larkspur were lovely and lush in June, their pink and lavender blossoms making a great color combination with blue flax and yellow lilies. But it would appear that all that larkspur, which has now gone to seed, crowded out others and what I have left are large patches with little but weeds (interesting that the term “weeds” refers to any plant in the wrong place at the wrong time). Meanwhile, the wildflower beds by the road are bedraggled from the extended heat wave. And the vegetables in the three raised beds don’t look much better. One tomato plant has that “failure to thrive” appearance and the only cucumber plant even thinking about producing is a volunteer from last year. At least I have a good crop of green peppers on the way and have harvested three (!) zucchini. I used one to make two loaves of bread, quite good toasted with butter or cream cheese and that reminds me that I still have a loaf in the freezer. It was my mother’s recipe and I always hope the benefit of the zucchini might cancel out all the oil.
But back to the flowers, an area I like to think I’m good at. This morning I took my tea and sat down on the bench by the decorated tree stump. Fat cat Noel joined me and tried to distract me from my assessment of the situation. The black-eyed Susans are on their last legs. The dianthus are trying to make a late summer come back without much success. The straggly petunias I put in last week in the hope of adding some color (end of year half price clearance) are not likely to spread at this point. And the six foot tall dill plant is badly bent over from a storm and hasn’t managed to straighten up. I didn’t cut it back as it feeds caterpillars in late summer. As I sat there, stroking Noel, feeling quite deflated, I noticed something on one of the few petunia blossoms. It stood out with dark wings and blue, white and orange spots—a western black tailed butterfly and that would mean….I searched the dill and there, carefully camouflaged, I found one, then two, then three caterpillars. Suddenly my efforts seemed more worthwhile. I enjoy sharing all these plants and since nobody is coming for a garden tour…
…though perhaps if I advertised having a fairy garden, and I could even expand it next year—maybe a little pagoda and a labyrinth, though someone suggested that fairies are not really in need of meditation devices.
The fairy garden has been a plan of mine for some time and this June it seemed like the perfect excuse to postpone checking off items on the “to do this summer as I didn’t get it done for the last five summers” list. I knew exactly where I wanted it—a sheltered spot under some juniper bushes in front of the porch. And so I set out.
First came a pebble road lined with a twig fence (Rose helped me find the right sized flat stones and sticks), then two wading pools, very cleverly placed under a hanging plant to catch the run off from watering. A little arched branch ended the road which would lead to a house…a house. Huh….a house. If I was trying to follow the idea of using only natural materials, then little sticks seemed appropriate but several attempts at making the house actually stand on its own had me looking on-line for Joann’s coupons. Helen told me all I needed was a hot glue gun and she was right. I found one that I’d bought for all the craft projects she used to beg for, noting that I had another comeback to those popular articles about decluttering. And I found that a glass of red wine seemed to help, especially if working in the evening.
Helen also suggested using Popsicle sticks and for a person who NEVER finished ANY of her craft projects, she does have some good ideas. Those made the frame and really can’t be seen from the outside and, dear fairies, forgive me, if when you enter in, you are offended by these man-made sticks—well, also the twine and the pottery parts and all that glue. But somehow I can’t picture fairies being easily offended.
I had my setbacks, as with the swing, which still stays twisted. And whenever I go to straighten it out I step on some of the fencing. The last addition was a picnic area and it seems a mole has burrowed underneath, perhaps searching for a few leftover crumbs. Then there’s the wading pools where roly poly bugs have some kind of suicide pact about drowning. I know it may not last through the winter and I’ve thought of bringing in the house, but I love the idea of seeing snow on the roof. I do wish the dill plant was nearby. I can picture those caterpillars meandering down the pebble path. The fairies wouldn’t mind sharing. They are that kind of folk.
I will admit to sometimes having a little envy of those carefully mulched and weed free gardens, but I wouldn’t trade mine for them. I love the wildness and all the variety, the way every summer something different gets to have its glory days. I love the caterpillars that will eat the dill plant and the fairy garden already in need of restoration, the way those patches of bare earth give me reason to plan for next year. I won’t likely be on any tour that I’ve ever known about. That’s O.K., but I would like to share my garden, with whoever wants to come and visit. I want to be that kind of folk.
To see more about fairy gardens: