gardens NOT in process: do such things exist?

gardens NOT in process: do such things exist?

Okay. I understand the concept of continued maintenance. But dear lord, am I ever going to look out there and not see a mess? Is it like that for everyone? Or is this my particular mental health issue? Our youngest kid had a birthday in July. We celebrated at a favorite haunt, Santa Fe Taqueria on NW 23rd in Portland. Yes, that’s an Oregon Weedery sign in the background. Across the street the other direction, the perpetual line at Salt & Straw Ice Creamery.

At any rate, our good friends and former neighbors, Missy, Tami, and Cayton–asked about our garden.

I gave my typical shoulder shrug, it’s-a-mess response. And Megan said, what are you talking about? Your garden looks great. Seriously? When I look out there, I’m reminded of my childhood neighbor, Mr. Daly, on our scary parish pastor. “Father Aggler looks out there, all he sees is a bunch of cabbage heads.” I think I’ve told you this a few times before, but it’s so useful, I can’t resist. Mr. Daly was the best, famous for breaking into a Mick Jagger routine. Kids found him hilarious.

The Round Bed

I have to admit, there are a few features in the garden I quite love. For instance, the round bed, which I’ve also mentioned ad nauseum. I can’t help it. I got the idea from the lovely and talented Vanessa Gardner Nagel. We’d talked about something in the back corner, but I ended up placing it in the direct sightline from the patio doors.

Accidental placement, and I still pinch myself over how perfectly it’s situated. In fact, the whole thing was was dumb luck. I don’t like to overcommit. So I toe my way in. Until it’s too late to turn back. There must be gardening angels nudging us along the path of satisfying design. (The picture atop this post is the sightline from our patio door.)

Last year’s Brugmansias were so prolific. I had two, and they went wild.

Last year’s Brugmansias bloomed their hearts out.

My one plant this year has been downright stingy on the bloom production front. Really, only one flush.

I’ll still take it. Don’t get me wrong. But come on.

Another unanticipated benefit of this round bed, has the been freedom to plant whatever I fancy. It’s a bed I water regularly, so that allows for casting caution to the wind. And before this, I didn’t even realize I was placing restrictions on myself about what I could and couldn’t do. Ay ay ay. The “rules” I impose on myself. What’s up with that? Besides my little Irish Catholic girl upbringing–heavily weighted on the deprivation side of the scale. In fairness, I met a terrific nun when I was 33, and she suggested I do things to evoke joy–because its life-affirming. Say what!? But that’s a horse of another color.

Back to gardening: My latest respray idea, more wild areas–particularly in the east fence garden. I never thought I’d come to this.

East Fence Garden — in the beginning. That maple is out-of-there.

Below, the partially dismantled East Fence Garden. I’ve never decided exactly what I wanted to there, thought I been threatening to straighten that pot for the longest time. Those things are heavy.

Today’s in process garden.

The notion of an orderly bed was before my grand puppy Pokey scared up a quail, where upon Pokey’s dad, Justin, promptly named him “Dan.”  I live in the city with a fenced backyard, and there’s a quail in my garden. That’s ridiculous.

Pokey, my grand puppy and scarer of Quails. “Who? Me?”

Happy making for sure. Of course, this means Pokey will need closer supervision. No chasing and scaring the quails allowed!

Side note: I texted my neighbor across the street and asked if he had quails. He, of course, said yes. I told my husband, and he said–if we told Steve we have a kangaroo in our back yard, he’d say, “I have two!” That guy. Always a step ahead.

Back to storyline, the wildlife/quail siting episode also seems another argument for adding a pond. I’m leaning toward using a 6′ galvanized stock tank. Now, where did that idea come from, she wonders, tapping finger to cheek.

Garden party in Heldreth’s Paradise–with pond.

You have to admit, this is well executed. And now that they’ve had it going for a while, I’m sure they’ll share the dos and don’ts. Because they’re nice people, as gardeners are wont to be. Except for the ones that aren’t.

So, let us know how things are evolving in your garden. And if there’s anyone out there with a garden that’s “done,” we want to hear about that too. With pictures.

Cheers, y’all.

  • Alison

    My garden will probably never be done either. I’ve got at least three beds that I plan to tear apart and redo in the coming months. Not to mention the pile of gravel that arrived in the spring and still refuses to spread itself. I even stopped visiting other gardens in the hope that it would stop giving me ideas, but that didn’t help.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Oh thank goodness. I like to know I’m in fine company. And the truth is, I like the puttering and planning and changing. I think that’s gardening.

  • Alan

    Ha! Done? Never! I’m not even 5 full years into my garden and I already have a hairbrained idea to start completely over in one spot!!! I blame Loree! You’re right Allison, visiting gardens gives you inspiration and ideas and, when you have the space, like you and I do Patricia, it’s a recipe for trouble! :)-
    Before I do anything I gotta get my shade garden up and running! Talk about never done!
    Fun post!

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Harebrained ideas are the best. I was a little slow getting going this year, but I’m wild with ideas now. Helps that it’s not a hundred out there. Cheers

  • I am always ripping something out and doing it over, sometimes days after I’ve put it in. Indoors I need to move furniture around to see where it will work. Can’t just do it as well on paper. I think that is how I garden as well. As for your round garden, nothing better than doing something that works and always makes you feel good when you look at it.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for popping in. I was thinking how I do the same thing inside, especially with color. I’ve got a room started downstairs–the party room! That’s what it was called when the house was built in 1958. And I’m sticking with it. Now, to just that “done.” Then we can have a party.


  • Tim Vojt

    I don’t think there are many gardeners who ever actually think their garden looks good. Oh, sure, there’s a plant at its peak or some lust-worthy combinations that have been well-executed, or maybe a container looking spiffy – but the garden? No. Doesn’t look good. See that weed I missed? See that bare spot? See that plant that needs to be divided? See the ideas for improvement dancing in my head?
    To use Billy Collins’ made-up word – Gardeners are always ‘azaleating’ – which means to proclaim to visitors that they ‘ve come just a bit too early to see the azaleas at peak, or tell them that if they’d only come a week later the autumn colors would be at their zenith. (Have I shared this word with you before?).
    My garden always looks ‘meh’ to me in person, although sometimes, I must admit, it looks good in a photograph…if I squint and don’t stare for too long…….

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Haha. No, you hadn’t shared the word. It’s a good one. I am making an effort to look at the garden with less critical eyes. Especially since the critters don’t seem to mind. But dear lord, if I could concentrate on one area at a time, that would be something. I guess I should know by this date, that it’s not likely to happen. Making peace with it always being in process seems a more reasonable way to go. But for the record, when I see pictures of your garden, it makes me want to run outside and start straightening up.

      • Tim Vojt

        Funny. When I see my garden in real life, it makes me want to run outside and start straightening up, too!

  • Grace Peterson

    One thing is for sure. We are our own worst critic. We always see the mess in our own garden, while visitors see only the good stuff. It rained this morning and fall rains mean plant moving! I would hate it if my garden were “done.” There would be nothing left to live for. 🙂

  • ricki grady

    A finished garden? Hah! Tell that to the weeds.