Thursday, May 28, 2009

May Garden & Lessons in Patience

One of the things I love about gardening is the many life lessons that can be received. And for me, patience is one of those. Plants and gardens have their own timetables and they may not necessarily correspond with mine. May has been a month of waiting and watching, planning and yearning, fine tuning the garden plan and wondering how it is all going to work.

We had some periods of warm, sunny weather where I wanted to run out and plant, but I knew it was too early. The full planting moon came several weeks ago but it was still too cold and early. But slowly some chervil, parsley and onions went in the garden.

Martha Stewart had a show recently where she showed a product called Hot Kaps ( to protect seedlings. Her garden was planted and covered with caps - ah ha I thought! I went online and bought some and planted my pumpkins and zuchini started from seed and covered them protectively with their hot kaps. How cute and how satisfying to get some planting done.

And so I waited, as weeds started filling my beautiful new garden soil. The hollyhocks I started from seed went into the garden, also wearing their hot kaps and a good size echinacea and perennial carnation went in. Ladies mantle was transplanted, and russian sage, catmint and comfrey went in. And the weeds still came and the garden looks so empty.

I know that the first year is the year of the "bones" of the garden. Get the perennials in and started, allowing plenty of room for their eventual growth. I yearn to plant everything closer, but know that if I do, I will be pulling out, dividing, and trying to control the plants in a year or two so am holding myself back.

I have a garden plan on paper, with each bed measured and on graph paper to scale, filled in with plants at their mature size. But the gardens look so much bigger in real life and right now they look rather empty.

But in getting plants to fill in all the space, I've also had to deal with my perfectionism in my garden. I go between 2 wanting just the right, perfect plant for a certain location and the other saving every lost little plant I find. Sometimes this works....a plant that is struggling at the store I will put in my home garden knowing that it will come to life and be a wonderful addition. I just can't throw a plant away and although it might not be perfect enough to sell, it can be salvaged. A few of the scented geraniums I overwintered fell into that category. Missing most of their leaves and looking very scraggly, I planted several of them in the garden where they are flowering and new leaves are starting to appear. Voila! But I know I will get a lot further, faster if I buy full size perennials such as the echinacea that went in. So I go between the two extremes, feeling satisfaction in watching the struggling plant come back to life but also appreciating the beauty of the large full plants.

And I realize that it is the need for instant gratification, the desire to have the perfect garden NOW and wanting the plants and nature to be on my schedule rather than my having to adapt to theirs that can be so frustrating. So I take a deep breath, talk to the plants and allow myself to sink into the process of building a garden which will take years, not days.

But that is part of the joy of it and the sense of being part of something living outside myself. I am their caretaker, and they are mine. There is so much in life that is fast, easy and instantaneous that it can feel uncomfortable to be slow, mindful and on nature's schedule. But maybe that's the sign that I need it all the more.

No comments: