Thursday, February 28, 2013


It's spring, well almost, here in the southern section of the US. Like anyone, I look forward to spring (minus the pollen) because things start to bloom (thus the pollen). I like flowers and colors and pretty gardens. They make me feel like going outside. I have long fantasized about having beautiful landscaping and gardens around my home. I close my eyes (cue romantic music) and envision a lovely mix of sculpted boxwoods and evergreens and hydrangeas and azaleas and camellias and gardenias. I want a dogwood tree there and a mimosa tree here. Perhaps a magnolia down by the street. I love crepe myrtles and I mourn that we are too far south for lilacs. I want a bulb garden along the back, a perennial bed near the house and an annual bed along the walkway that changes with the season - pansies in the winter, snap dragons in the spring, vinca in the summer,  marigolds in the fall. I want to see something in bloom all year round - even if it is just the red berries on a holly bush to brighten a gray winter day.

My fantasy is not limited to flower gardens. I long for an herb and spice garden off the back near the kitchen. I'd harvest the herbs and dry them by hanging them upside down from my pot rack. And vegetables too! Tomatoes, all kinds of peppers, varieties of squashes, assortments of beans and peas, asparagus, okra, corn. Yes, I'd throw in some fruit too - black berries, strawberries, figs and dates, peaches and apricots. Yes, I would harvest carrying in the earth's bounty in a hand-woven basket and I'd spend days canning all our produce and humming.
(Screeching brake sound here) But, then I remember that gardens are outside. And with the outside comes heat, weeds, bugs and here in the south, snakes. And so far, my attempts to garden have been disappointing. In Florida, my first attempts were dismal because I tried to plant the flowers I grew up with. I grew up in Rhode Island - a completely different temperature zone. I didn't know about zones. My poor flowers withered and died. Even the bulbs didn't survive. Then I planted azaleas and hibiscus and gardenias and things were better except the snakes (heebie-jeebie dance) like to hide in them and that's scary when it is time to prune.

In Virginia we had sculpted boxwoods and evergreens and they were beautiful and not too much work to keep them that way. Because my husband did the pruning. But it lacked color. So I planted mums. I was so excited! There were yellow ones and orange ones and red ones! And I knew that they'd fade but then they would return the next year. But the deer ate them. First they ate the blossoms. Then they came back and ate the greens and stems down to the ground. On their third return they yanked up the roots and ate those. So much for my mums.
When we moved here, our first home had a huge garden area in the back and we planted our first veggie garden. It was growing and doing just fine producing bushels of beans and butternut squash and peppers. Then the heat set in. The tomatoes ruptured from the heat and the peppers began to shrivel. Mr. Bunny feasted on my zucchini blossoms. By mid-summer the boring bugs had taken over.

Gardens are work. There's pruning and weeding and thinning and spraying and watering and feeding. And all of this is done outside. And outside is hot and buggy and humid and there is a chance of running into bees or wasps or ground hornets or ticks or snakes. All of which are unpleasant. And after all that, there is still Mr. Bunny and the herds of deer that have no respect for your property or efforts. Besides, I don't have a pot rack to for drying herbs.
Still, I dream of one day having stunning gardens to stroll through, to cut flowers to put in the house, to sit on a bench (in the shade) and relax. Our fixer-upper house has many projects that need to be done inside (like the entire interior) and the exterior landscaping is one of those things that need to be fixer-uppered eventually. Perhaps, when it comes time to tackle the outside I can revisit the vision. For now, I'll just close my eyes (cueromantic music again).

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