Through the Garden Gate: Just a typical week in the garden

Published 6:01 pm Saturday, April 29, 2023

Gardening is supposed to be peaceful, calming, and restorative. Most of the time that’s true, but once in a while, things don’t go according to plan in the garden. That’s when a smart gardener takes a break, but then, there are some of us who just don’t understand the importance of admitting defeat.

Last week was one of those times. My favorite garden helper and I had a list of early spring projects that we wanted to finish while the weather was cooperative. To say that nothing went according to plan would be an understatement. 


There were only two blooms left standing after our garden mishap, but they were perfect.

We wanted to replenish the mulch in some of the perennial beds, sprinkle fish meal on the daylilies, repair a broken fence, increase the size of the small patio in the side pocket garden, and weed, weed, weed. Just mundane, boring, early spring tasks. 

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My garden helper and I started the morning by walking around the garden to see how everything looked. The daffodils, yellow trillium, and an early species tulip (Tulipa sylvestris) were in full bloom. Unfortunately, some of the prettiest daffodils were blooming in odd places — in the lawn, in the middle of the irises, and under the roses, everywhere except where they were supposed to be. Apparently, when we reset a large mixed perennial bed last fall, we dropped the bulbs. 

There were also some very healthy-looking irises sprouting in the lawn. Did Anca “plant” them? Possibly. So…unanticipated work. And then, disaster struck: one of us tripped and fell on a small colony of Tulipa sylvestris, those spritely yellow woodland tulips that have a scent similar to violets and have been cultivated in Europe since the sixteenth century. We were fortunate that no one was injured, but there will only be one of two blooms this year.

My garden guy and I decided we needed a change of pace, so we loaded some bags of compost onto the garden cart and then inside for lunch. What could go wrong with food and tea! While we were eating, Anca, my very enthusiastic, teenage German shepherd, decided to help us by dragging the bags of compost off the cart and then shredding them. When we started work again, we found little pieces of plastic and a thin layer of compost everywhere.

We decided to quit before anything else went awry. Late afternoon margaritas on the patio in the pocket garden seemed like the right thing to do. Relax, enjoy the scent of the Edgeworthia, and forget about accomplishing anything. And then…while we were trying to forget our terrible, bad, awful day, we saw a young girl get off the school bus, look at the daffodils blooming along the sidewalk, and then pick about half of them. She looked very happy, and I hope the bouquet was for her mom.

Most of the time gardening is peaceful and purposeful. At the end of the day, there is a sense of accomplishment, as well as fatigue. On some days, however, you’ve just got to go with the flow and be willing to share flowers with strangers. Chores will always wait.

Dr. Cynthia Wood is a master gardener. Her email address is