What a Garden Project in Progress Looks Like

– Posted in: Hardscaping and Projects

One of the things I did in June was tackle a part of the north border that had never been cultivated. I had dumped leaves there for several years, but otherwise whatever the birds planted that could tolerate shade was growing there: garlic mustard, aster, goldenrod, creeping bellflower, and jewelweed.
Garden Project in ProgressMy goal was nothing less than complete renovation: weeds removed, soil amended and turned, plants planted. When I get involved in a garden project, I become oblivious to everything except the goal at hand. Anything not needed at that precise moment is thrown behind me or tossed to the side. (Yes, sometimes on the plants waiting patiently to go into the ground.)

For some reason I had to leave and come back. Seeing it afresh, I realized this scene looked more like a war zone than anything else. It is a war zone: the intentions of the gardener against the forces of chaos. I don’t need to tell you that less than a month later, the weeds are back.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

azurienne July 24, 2008, 3:28 am

After reading your watering can article, I poked around a bit on your blog. I love this article — I’m not alone!!!! My husband thinks I should carry a basket around with me when weeding to keep things neat (he’s not a gardener, he’s not a neatnick!). Ha. My weeds also get thrown over my shoulder, fall where they may. Just as much work to clean up, but who’s got the patience to properly dispatch them at the time? If I had a nice tool cart, it would always be empty — mine are scattered all over the place when I’m working. Your photo was so accurate of a gardener at work (or play, as it may be).

I live in the Alps behind Nice on the French Riviera (well, somebody has to live there), and my weeds are vicious. Lots of blackberry brambles, wild prunus, acanthus everywhere, not to mention all the viney weeds the grow overnight in the spring (I don’t know any names of weeds, saving my memory for nice stuff). I like the term “yardening” I’ve seen recently, I think that fits what I do much more than genteel “gardening.”

Blackswampgirl Kim July 18, 2008, 4:46 pm

You know… I hate to admit it, but my garden looks like this an awful lot. Whether I am in mid-project or not!

Jane Marie July 13, 2008, 3:24 pm

The weeds ALWAYS come back. Sometimes on the same day that you pulled them, it seems. That’s the most frustrsting thing about gardening.

Kathy Purdy July 13, 2008, 1:18 pm

wiseacre, it was nice–for a while. (See the Wicked Beauty post linked in the sidebar.) But sooner or later the hand of the gardener wants to try something else. And all those wild beauties still grow in the hedgerows and ditches.

wiseacre July 13, 2008, 10:54 am

I’m laughing because that’s what my projects look like when I’m done.

Ugh – Garlic Mustard. Otherwise your ‘wildflower’ garden sounded nice.

dlyn July 12, 2008, 5:30 pm

Looks like home to me Kathy – and weeds coming right back sounds like home!

Catherine, MyGardenTravels July 12, 2008, 11:16 am

A couple of years ago I had to downsize my garden. It’s always tempting to start another. I just have to look forward to ripping my established gardens apart every so often. If only my wrist and back would hold out.

Kathy Purdy July 11, 2008, 8:21 pm

Ted, this isn’t a new bed so much as finally getting around to a section of an already established bed.

MSS, for that reason, the tiller would not have been a good way to prep this bed. It was only about a 6 ft. wide section. The tiller is too big to maneuver in such close quarters. And there were a lot more rocks than you see in this photo. I think I had already picked up two wheelbarrow loads when this photo was taken.

Kim, I’m fighting bindweed myself in another bed.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens July 11, 2008, 7:41 pm

That’s how my garden ALWAYS looks.

Wouldn’t the tiller come in handy for prepping the new bed?

Annie in Austin July 11, 2008, 2:19 pm

I’m laughing too, Kathy – and it’s definitely WITH you and not at you. At least you’re in the country – a lot of my projects have been public displays of gardening disorder because they were in front yards in more urban settings.

At this house I’ve tended to save my front yard projects for my yearly turn as hostess for the Divas of the Dirt. That means seven women with all their tools, carts, kneeling benches, etc. , along with the bags of compost and mulch, plants, etc. You’d feel right at home!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

I kind of like that ‘Public Displays of Gardening Disorder’ phrase and think I’m going to write a post about it. I could follow in Carol’s footsteps and call it “PDGDD – Public Displays of Garden Disorder- Disorder”.

Kim July 11, 2008, 2:04 pm

I had to smile at your “warzone” comment. I think most of us gardeners have been there. And the weeds coming back? Oh, I wish I could stop the bindweed and poison ivy absolutely intent on taking over my “ditch garden” on the side of our drainage swale. Got any secret weapons? 🙂

Mr. McGregor's Daughter July 11, 2008, 2:01 pm

Kudos for being brave enough to post that photo. I feel like a leave a trail as I work my way through the garden. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an assistant to pick up after us?

Jessica July 11, 2008, 12:33 pm

haha…love it!!

Cindy July 11, 2008, 11:21 am

Kathy, like everyone else, I’d feel right at home there! I had that same garden cart and sold it on Craigslist because I never used it. It was the 2nd or 3rd player in the neverending fantasy that a garden cart will help me be a better gardener!

Dee/reddirtramblings July 11, 2008, 10:50 am

Kathy, it looks just like my garden about half the time. No wonder you hurt your back. I was ready to get right in there with you and help.

BTW, with my poison ivy I forgot about something. It’s being taken care of right now. Sorry.~~Dee

Karen July 11, 2008, 8:28 am

I laughed out loud when reading this post… I do the same thing!

Colleen Vanderlinden July 11, 2008, 7:45 am

Kathy, I was grinning as soon as I saw the photo. That’s exactly the way my garden looks when I’m immersed in a project. And, like you, I’m totally focused on the task at hand.

Anna July 11, 2008, 1:40 am

I have a whole yard that looks like this so at least you are ahead of me. I just moved in my house in April and I’m playing catch up. Seems like the weeds grow faster in a new bed. Your site is very well done. I love the steely blue background. I want to come back and look around more.

Amy July 10, 2008, 11:30 pm

I too am a “war zone” type of gardener. Sometimes it takes just as long to clean up the mess as it did to finish my project 🙂

tedb July 10, 2008, 11:11 pm

This is so familar to me. I love adding new beds – more room for new plants. Next year, I promise to refine my beds, rather then adding anymore.

In a big rambling country garden, weed supression rather then weed elimination seems like a more realistic goal. I have bed that I’ve pulled creeping bellflowers from for years. And though it’s not noticible to most visitors, it’s always lurking in the corners.