OLG (Old Lady Gardening) #2

Gardening like so many things is an art. You need to read the land, the weather patterns, the critters that patrol your gardens and your own physical abilities. All of these factors change from day to day or year to year. I have found the best laid plans fall apart easily and discouragement can come tumbling down upon us like a large pile of dirt.

The best thing to do when this happens is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off (or shower if it was mud) and begin again. I am trying but it is hard.

I plotted and planned. I organized and drew out the garden beds and what would go in them. I make charts and listed start dates and seeds, and live plants. It all looked easy and ready to go.

Then life and reality takes over!

The seeds did their thing – most of them grew but there were several that did not grow and who knows what happened to the tags. Then they just stopped growing – to cold – even inside. The warm weather plants are still struggling and they have yet to be put into the ground. (think tomatoes and peppers) The flower seeds have grown but again they sit under the hoop house with a frost cover and a blanket waiting for late spring and summer to arrive.

Little plant hoop house

While waiting for the new plants to do their thing I thought – great I will begin the spring clean up. I will go bed by bed to weed and clean out last years leaves. Well, wonderful plan but first it was to snowy and icy, then it was 90 degrees but I was out there pulling wet moldy leaves off of plants. Then the basement construction project pulled me back inside and chasing Mason also slowed the process of gardening.

Then the old lady issues reared their heads. We had some lovely evening to work but after following Mason (the almost 3 year old grandson) around all day and doing the daily task that just need doing I was ready to sit come evening not go pull weeds and cut down plants for three hours. My energy level is not what it was when I was younger.

The topper came when the cold weather slowed the flowering of trees, bushes and small plants. They finally decided to bloom but all at once. Every tree and bush in full glorious bloom all at the same time. The sights and smells are amazing but those of us with spring allergies took a hit. So I was coughing and sneezing with water eyes and a head so full I could not think straight. (yeah for doctors who come to the recuse with new meds)

Bleeding Hearts

So where do we stand now? We are just days away from June and the lettuce, spinach and radishes are starting to grow in the garden. The tomatoes and pepper are still either up in my office under grow lights (tiny little plants) or out in the hoop house with a frost cover and blanket over them shivering in 47 degree temperatures. The flower beds in front look ok – the tulips are loving the cool weather. The back flower beds are growing fast through the piles of last years leaves and dead plants. The early spring flowers don’t mind this crazy weather so Bleeding Hearts are blooming, Virginia Blue Bells are lovely, the Lilacs are joyful, the wild May Apples are taller than ever with their little flowers blooming under the umbrella roof and wild ginger looks great.


If I can think of my garden beds as if they are the floor of a forest glen it is all very lovely. If I think about it as a city garden all cultured and neat it is a lost cause. Weeds, old leaves and wild looking plants and bushes out of control in the beds. The critters that patrol the area are loving the extra cover to hide in and make nests in. The rabbits and squirrels have taken over and are in charge. The garden is more like a buffet for them. They love eating green Hosta plants. Who knew?

Now as the old lady gardener can I wrestle this wild world back to some sort of order? It is a summer project for sure. Tiny steps each day might at least help. I know the plants will be far ahead of me in growth and wildness but it is worth a try. I am well medicated with allergy meds and I remind myself that my legs, back and arm muscles can’t do the 4 to 5 hours of gardening each day so now I need to pace myself.

Wild Ginger

The Peony bed has been weeded and mulched. Step one done! I have trimmed around the 4 garden beds in front. There are sign that it will warm today so we might head out to plant beans, sunflowers, beets and replant carrots seeds that seem to be eaten by the squirrels.

I remind myself not to compare myself to other gardeners who have pristine yards and gardens by now. I remind myself that gardening is an art form that takes time and patiences.

The weather remains cool and mixed clouds for the rest of the week. The ground is dry and needs water. (We had a drought last year and have not made up the loss yet even with a winter of snow and cold wet spring.) The weeds are loving this weather and so are the hikers, bikers and walkers but the gardener in me needs warm days and rainy nights to build up the water table for the summer. Since I am wishing can I wish of more flexible knees and fingers so weeding and planting are just a tad bit easier. I can dream can’t I.

May Apple

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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