Some sage English gardener said, “It takes 50 years to create a beautiful garden.”
It comforts me.
Last year, you may remember, we started the Great Suburban Back Yard Overhaul. Tore out the decrepit wooden deck, rototilled half the lawn, put in new fences, and built a new garden bed with seven areas and pathways. I was half drunk with the glory of planting last year—lilacs and a peach tree, vegetables and perennial flowers, roses and herbs. I had a few disappointments: the onions kept being eaten by some tiny worm (which happened again this year—help!). The only rose that made it was in the mini-greenhouse I erected. The peach tree nearly died of a fungus until I figured it out.
But an inaugural year is always sweet, isn’t it?
This has been a very unkind year for gardens in my world. There was the late spring, then an early and endless and destructive hailstorm just as I managed to get all the seedlings planted. Then came the extreme heat (102 degrees in Colorado Springs is weird indeed), which coupled with the altitude of 7000 feet scorched and exhausted the June plants.
Before the heat broke, fire began to rage in the mountains. The Waldo Canyon Fire pumped tons of ash and particulates into the air, thus further smothering my poor babies. It was too hot and smoky to do any weeding, though I still did my best to keep up in the evenings. Weeds don’t care about smoke or heat or hail. There is a particular little succulent weed that thrives on all of that and they have made themselves very much at home.
Finally, the fire is out (or at least contained). Even better, the monsoon season has arrived. It has rained a lot the past week, and there is more rain to come, nearly every afternoon over the upcoming week. The plants are THRILLED. The corn has gone from a pathetic ankle high to thigh high in six days. The potatoes have started flowering. The peas have croaked, but that’s normal this time of year. I’ll plant some more in a month or so.
The only things that just are not going to thrive this year are the tomatoes. They’re puny and overwhelmed. The watermelon plants were demolished in the hail storm and have not recovered, but they were a looooonnnnnnggggg shot from the start. I’ve left them, anyway. You never know.
This morning I sat in my swing beneath the Ponderosa pine in my garden and admired the returned vigor of the lupines and the beans, the rose that has begun to bloom again and the snapdragons that add a corner of zest. I don’t know if I’ll get peaches, in the end. They were battered badly by the hail, and the tree still looks bedraggled. But there are a lot of them. They haven’t dropped off. They might be unbeautiful, but maybe I’ll get some jam.
Gardens, books, and children, I suppose. You don’t know how it will all turn out for a long time. In the meantime, you show up and do the work—writing pages or pulling weeds or driving them to violin lessons—and try to be present for what is, and trust that things work out.
How is your garden faring this summer? How are your other long term projects—books, children, remodeling? Does anyone know how to organically rid the soil of those annoying little worms eating my onions?