Gardening…sort of, or is it slave labor?

pink azaleas

So, we have been having summer weather for a few weeks now (yes, I know, it is now just April), and the garden has definitely sprung into life now. The lambs ear looks lovely,  healthy and is spreading rather quickly. Several plants that my dad separated and donated to my garden last year look just wonderful this year, growing and blooming (a bit earlier than usual, if you ask me). Somehow the peonies that a friend rescued from the trash pile are now thriving in their new homes, and look to be bumper crops of blooms this year. All the hostas that a friend saved for me late last Fall that never made it into the ground, amazingly are growing and healthy and were placed in their new homes…FINALLY!

ants doing their work with the peony


columbine making its comeback


lovely blue blooms


lambs ear spreading out

Today was a great day for gardening, if you ask me. If you ask my husband, he would probably have a different opinion, as he is the brawn and I am the brain when it comes to the garden. He tells me to just lay the plants where I want them and he will plant them. What a guy! Of course, it is never quite that simple, because I have to consider where the sun is NOW and where it will be in the true heat of Summer. Where is the shady part of the garden? Where is the true sunny area? How much shade will the neighbor’s trees cast on my yard? That wastes his precious time (because he always has a list of to dos, kind of like Santa’s list…and Nathan checks his list more than twice, let me tell you!!!).

But, we made tremendous progress on the side yard today. That part of the yard was originally raised beds with railroad ties. Let me restate that more honestly…the previous owner, about 50 years ago, decided to create these raised boxes out of railroad ties and topped them with copper. Sounds nice, right? The IDEA was nice, the workmanship–NOT. The only things growing in the boxes, which ran from the front of the house to the back of the house along the west wall, were bees, ants and weeds with a few spiders and hornets for good measure. One of the levels (the yard slopes from the front to the back) was partially filled with ugly gravel–not at all sure why, because there wasn’t enough gravel to impede the weeds. The next level had some thorny, non-blooming plants that were just ugly and painful to deal with because the thorns pierced through even my leather work gloves. Of course, the lowest tier was just rotten and had numerous hives that surprised my husband and son-in-law when they were installing a fence a few years ago. Last Fall, Nathan demolished the boxes and leveled the soil (I hesitate to call it “soil”). That garden is now home to 5 peonies, about 10 hostas, and several donations of something from my dad’s garden. Once it is mulched, it will look pretty good…and if we can get a patch of day lilies down at the bottom, it will be DONE. (Nathan will be so happy!)

side yard under construction--maybe we should paint the wall???

The window boxes and the front gardens are really looking great. It is that fun time of year when you are reminded, oh yes, I remember that…wow, look how those are spreading out…everyday it changes. But one thing remains constant…all those weeds. The wild violets have practically taken over part of the yard…dandelions are making a valiant stand…the crab grass has somewhat succumbed to the weed preventer, leaving me with several lovely patches of dead weeds all over what is supposed to be grass.

I spend a good many hours each week just removing weeds. They annoy me…and remind me of the presence of sin creeping into the corners of my life. Just like those weeds, my heart needs to be tended to on a very regular basis to avoid being taken over by the silently creeping sins that go unnoticed and unconfessed. I do wish I was as easy to tame as the gardens are…alas, I still struggle.

wild violets...evidence of the curse of sin

When we bought this house almost 4 years ago, the poor house and yard needed total makeovers. And I do mean TOTAL–think harvest gold metal kitchen cabinets and wall paper from the 1950s. I guess we have made about 25% improvements to the yard and 55% to the house, but the stuff that remains…ugh. But, on the bright side, now you can SEE the house from the street, and it actually is an improvement over what it had been. If we ever make it to the back yard, well, let’s just say a backhoe, a jack hammer and a dump truck will be helpful. Who asphalts the back yard, anyway???


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