What would it take to have the best garden in the world? A good eye for design, certainly. A love of plants. Money. Most importantly, I think, one would need time. Buckets of it. Oceans of time.
A little proverbial rain has fallen in my life recently, but as an odd result, I will have a lot more time for gardening. The question is: how to use the “extra” time I now have?
Generally, during a regular summer week (that is, not a planting week) I spend about 7 hours in the garden. Any less and the weeds get the best of me. If I could spend 10 hours or 14 hours every week in the garden, what should I do with it?
My first thought is that instead of doing my usual two or three beds a year, I can do four. By “doing” the beds- mainly (as you saw in last week’s post) I mean uncrowding them. Digging out crowded plants and finding a new home for them. I can also dig out and get rid of plants I’ve grown to dislike. I always feel guilty doing this (Yankee thrift + Lutheran guilt), so I generally put it off until a plant is so bad/disgusting/wrong that it absolutely must be done. With a little courage, and more time, this will get closer to the top of the list.
Weeding. A mere hour of extra weeding per week would be a huge benefit to me. Often, by mid-July the garden has so many weeds that I can’t keep up. I would love to be one of those people who got up in the morning a bit earlier and spent an hour outside weeding or doing whatever in the garden.
Trellises and Staking. I almost never stake anything- with good reason. If a plant is floppy, then I probably don’t want it. I also like the look of floppy plants- and if they get too floppy, then they become flowers for the house and that is fine with me too. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to stake the peonies in front or the enormous Chrysanthemum, which should really get moved elsewhere.
I’ve converted to a white plastic mesh instead of trellises- and while lovely, I haven’t quite brought myself to remove the old trellises. If I actually get around to that, the garden would look much tidier.
I already spend a good deal of time in the garden staring at individual plants, which is an important way for me to think about its habits, although my husband says it gives the plants performance anxiety. I think I don’t need to do more of that- or flower cutting, which I do a lot of– I bring bouquets into my office every week.
What I absolutely need to do is sit and enjoy the garden more. I’m not good at sitting still (right now I am shaking my legs at my desk), but an evening’s rest in the garden would be a great idea- my favorite picture of my garden was taken on the one evening I just relaxed outside last year.
I may not ever have the best garden in the world (certainly not, with only 1/7 of an acre), but I will have a much better garden if I dedicate just a bit more time to it. That is the key to good gardening, isn’t it?