This blog will be a little different this week. If you are looking for helpful information or useful tidbits, you should probably stop reading now. This one is all about gardening…the wrong way.
Painstakingly planting over 80 bulbs last fall, I had anxiously awaited the warm weather. I even put a chicken wire perimeter up to protect my little garden from the voracious little woodchucks that live in our yard.
Then spring came. Crocuses, Tulips, and Alliums all sprung up in full, rainbow colored glory. For the briefest of moments, with the fruit trees covered in blossoms and my hard work on display, I felt like I was a gardening superhero. It was beautiful! I wasn’t sure why so many people felt like this gardening thing was hard work.
Inspired by my success, I went on to plant a pollinator garden in the same little area. My 15 or so new little plants came by mail, super healthy and ready to be put in the soil. I am a gardening goddess.
However, as spring slowly progressed to summer, my beautiful flowers withered, and I was left with rows of yellowing leaves. Until they are all no longer green you need to leave them to feed the bulb. Fine. I had laid out the garden with summertime bloomers in the back with the hopes of there being a beautiful progression of flowers from front to back. It doesn’t work that way. The Black Eyed Susan and Echinacea were still just filling out. Not a flower to be found. Even the ornamental grasses were just starting to realize they should get their act together, starting to form green shoots amongst the cut back remnants of last year.
Why are there weeds coming up?? I spent the fall schlepping bag after bag of mulch. Like, SO MUCH mulch. WHY ARE THERE WEEDS. Fine. Will spend some time crawling around the flower bed weeding. Ok, a lot of time. Does everyone have back pain after weeding? Doesn’t matter. Garden bed is clean…is my fruit tree bleeding?
Closer inspection reveals a clear reddish sap oozing from the trunk of my fruit tree. Closer inspection shows the fruit is looking weird. A quick consult with Dr. Google and I’m pretty sure my cherry tree has brown rot and some other type of fungus. Fine. Wait, is the same thing happening with the peach tree??
Pollinator garden is growing in…did something bite the tops off all the new growth area?? Deer? But if it is a deer, they didn’t eat any of the fruit tree leaves, which is their preference (as we learned from last year). The plants are in the chicken wired off area, with a chicken wire apron, so couldn’t possibly be ground hogs, right? You know what, doesn’t matter. Hours now spent creating cages to go around the plants that are literally in a giant cage already. Fine. Bleeding from my fingers from bending wires for a small lifetime? Check. (when was my last tetanus shot again?) Ran out of wire and had to use mesh. Surely the hard plastic will work just as well.
Hard plastic didn’t work. I think they ate the Liatris Spicata out of spite. Like, to the nub. Blossoms bitten off Echinacea. WHAT IS IN THE GARDEN? I have now resorted to spying on the outside area like a woodland creature stalker. Suggested full ground hog outfit to “blend in” with the natives. Strangely encouraged by husband but decided against it.
THERE IS A GROUNDHOG IN MY GARDEN! I realize this as I’m getting out of the shower. So, of course I run outside wet and in my PJs. Groundhog realizes there is a crazy lady and now is frantically trying to leave the garden but can’t find the way out. Mulch and plant bits are being flung carelessly in the air by tiny hands. I open the door to the garden just as he Houdini’s his way out of the tiniest unsecured section of the chicken wire. Accused!
It is dusk. I am grabbing spare cinder blocks to use to prevent another garden breach. This one feels particularly wet and cold against my finger. Ew! A slug! Slug on my hand! Shake slug off, wipe hand furiously on pajamas and continue my medieval wall building defense.
Weekends are now full of weeding, tactical defense maneuvers against furry invaders, fruit tree convalescence, watering, fertilizing. It’s like a full-time job. I am not a gardening goddess, not a superhero. More dark ages style peasant: tired, sore, covered in mud, sweat and apparently a slug or 2. Yet, despite all this, I do have to say (and maybe there is something wrong with me) that I, on a weird level, genuinely enjoy it. And, (score yet another point for science), I do feel better and less stressed afterwards. So, I’ll keep at it. Maybe buy that groundhog costume after all.
**no groundhogs have been harmed before, during, or after any of this. They have actually either had babies or invited friends as there are now 2, maybe 3.
- Brooke Rieth FNP & Dr. Mike