Friday, August 27, 2010

A mell of a hess

Ah yes, the August garden of a May and June gardener; worse, the late August garden of a May and June gardener. I am one of those people who looks forward eagerly to every tiny sprig of green in March and April, delights in the first woodland and garden perennials of May, enjoys June while tut-tutting at the vanished colors already, and then gets kind of bored by mid-July. I also have a ridiculous habit, extremely amateurish, of not weeding very much. Have you ever read garden blogs whose authors peek over their amateur neighbors' fences, look at something gone wild, and ask, "why would you let anything get like that?"

I'm the neighbor. I hate to pull up a green growing thing, even if it is smothering other things I wanted and paid money for. I reason that if the thing can grow there, it must belong there. It's found its niche. My sister in law, the master gardener, says, if "it" -- whatever you are looking at in puzzlement -- reaches waist height and you're not getting anything from it (no flowers), get rid of it. Sensible advice, which I vow I'll follow next year. Just as, every year in about April, I vow to myself: a better garden this year. I've got plenty of time.

But here we are at the end of August. Someone really ought to see to these castor bean plants, being twined about by morning glory. But at least morning glories flower -- I get something from them, reliably.   

And one really ought not to let one's coleus flower. The plant would have been fuller without it. I didn't even realize it was happening.

Perennial red fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head #1.' This may be exactly what I need: the permanently unmowable, no-fuss lawn. 

Of all things, the philodendron, future houseplant and in fact my favorite kind of houseplant (so wild looking!) looks promising.

In the background below are gigantic goldenrod, from my sister-in-law's own garden as it happens, which seem not to be getting enough sun. How they stoop and strain for more! But if and when they flower, they'll be beautiful massed yellow. And native, too.

I never can understand why woods and meadows always look good, while letting one's garden run riot never seems to replicate nature's effortless beauty. Perhaps this entire hobby is just not my forte. Perhaps at the very least I've never fully realized that my yard lies in almost perpetual shade, and that this has an effect on what will thrive.

It's a good thing the internet is full of gardens we may virtually visit, gardens whose masters don't make such a hash of it. Do go and see, just for a start:

India Garden (spectacular butterflies)
The Green Garden Gate (from Denmark; flowers are the same in any language)
Garden History Girl
Dragon Fly Garden (from Miami)
Japanese Garden

And doff your garden hat in the profoundest admiration.


  1. You make a valid point with the meadows. THey are always beautiful and you never see a weed misplaced in all of it. And here I am weeding my small garden every week, i cant keep on top of it fast enough!

  2. "A Mell of a Hess" is my new favorite expression! And so applicable to my gardening efforts, too! Thank you so much for the links to the online gardens. What pleasure!

  3. "A mell of a hess" comes to us all courtesy of my mother and I think her mother. Very useful. I also like their "don't hang by your eyelashes" to mean "don't hold your breath."