Sunday, February 27, 2011

The plight of the creative gardener.

I was originally going to title this rant "The plight of the creative person", as the conundrum I am about to explain is present in decisions not only in the garden, but also in most of the creative decisions I make regarding our property, but since the weather is great, and the garden is in flux, I decided to focus on that.

Why is it that the creative minded can never make decisions regarding their own habitat? Give me some obscure project for someone else, and I can usually find the one solution that works best. "Sure, just lay the rose beds out like this" I have said to my older sister, or "The perfect color for this space would be _______ because of the light, and it pulls out that elusive tint in your antique photographs" to another friend. Let me loose in my own house or yard however, and I will sit frustrated for hours on which is the best decision for the overall layout. Countless days of backbreaking work creating this layout and then two weeks later I hate it. Over the last 3 years my daylily beds have moved 6 times. Companion plants for my roses? Forget about it. I have no clues. Which rose needs to go where. I am completely blank. Now this isn't because I don't have any garden education. Trust me, I read everything I can get my hands on. Winter months are spent on the Antique Rose Forum, or blogs of people who love them, perusing back issues of Southern Living for images that spark some inspiration, or drafting new garden plans for my DH and myself to kill ourselves excavating. My greatest wish, were I to make one, would be that another rose gardener would wander into my yard, and point out what to plant, where to plant, and how many to plant. Someone to inspire greatness in my humble 10,000 sq. ft. urban lot.  I don't mind the labor...I just need a plan. All of this frustration reared its ugly head when yesterday I decided to attack the front of my house. Fueled by two many morning cappucinos and a couple hours of looking at beautiful cottage front gardens, my barren front palette became my new nemesis. Straight lines, driveways, sidewalks, and an overall odd layout confronts me still. I sat on the sidewalk in front of my house, surely to the curiosity of my neighbors, just staring at the empty front beds, using my pointer finger and imagination to draw in where I needed height, depth, color. Two hours of walking around, putting potted things here and there to judge the layout, staring, scratching my head, muttering curses at the beds, and all I have now in the ground is a grouping of tea olives and a couple transplanted, scraggly spirea. Which roses to go in....not a clue. Companion plants, I think blue salvia (i found a sale and bought 9, and I am going back today for more) daylilies, and underplantings of winter bulbs. But in what layout, not sure. Should I alter the straight lines of it and create a more undulating bed or stick to a more euclidean geometry and let the plants soften the lines? Heck if I know. Three years of working on this yard, this garden. It still looks as if I moved in 6 months ago. Sure, things have radically changed looking at pictures of when we first bought the place. The problem is, they have changed radically more than 12 times. In 3 years. And so on this Sunday morning, I am sending out a prayer for a gardening angel to visit with a piece of graph paper with the perfect garden scheme and some sort of anti-gardening-anxiety medication.


  1. I am sure your garden is beautiful. I am often dissatisfied with the way things look, but that's normal - gardens are living and changing and evolving all the time. I can't wait to see pictures of yours and find out which roses you grow.

  2. Kenneth, I feel for you - especially after 3 years. I had similar anxiety. Mine was based on the fear of being totally embarrassed by the garden I was about to create in my front yard. I surfed Google images for "rose garden plans". Then there it was. That was it! Clicked on the thumbnail. Oops, that wasn't it, but it was the inspiration for my garden. The design I used was what I thought I had seen in that tiny thumbnail. Sometimes inspiration comes in strange ways. Amazingly, I have never had any doubts about the plan though the plants in it have come and gone. Companion plants have also come and gone over the last three years, but just today I said if purple coneflowers were the only companion plants I had, I'd be happy and spring would be a lot easier, and since I have 42 seedlings arriving this week, I may get my wish. Gardening consists of a lot of hands-on learning - about plants and yourself. Sometimes the learning is good and constructive and sometimes not good but constructive. Relax and enjoy your garden. That's the main thing. That garden angel may just show up. In the meantime post a photo of the front of your house. All the best to you!

  3. I just posted a new blog which gives some overall shots of the back and the front, and any suggestions are appreciated!