From Where I Sit – Smell the Roses

After the longest winter of our lives and a spring that came in fits and starts, I finally got to spend some time in my garden during the long weekend. Because we live on a farm our yard is huge, with multiple flower beds, many trees, and grass galore. The early onset of winter and the lead-up to my shoulder surgery pre-empted some of the fall cleanup I would normally have done.

The yard has evolved over the years. Twenty-three years ago I set about doing some serious landscaping. There were no foundation plantings to anchor the house. There were no flowerbeds, raised or otherwise. There was no patio or sidewalk. There weren’t any hedges or focal points or paths.

Like a fool I set out to change all that.

I was gardening before gardening was cool; before everyone wanted to create outdoor rooms to expand their living space. Before you needed carpeting, mirrors, a chandelier, stand-up bars, or furniture suites with all-weather cushions for your theme garden. Before you needed a degree in horticulture or landscape design. Before you needed to buy garden art, sculptures, fountains, and the latest hybrids in decorator colours.

Before every yard had a water feature and hardscaping and zones.

What seemed like a good idea in 1984 has seemed less so as the years have added up. For one thing, I’m not as young or strong as I once was. For several years I’ve been labouring with a torn rotator cuff and frayed biceps tendon. This spring I’m still in recovery mode and find I still don’t have the strength, stamina, or range of motion extreme gardening requires. I’m confident all that will come with time. I haven’t always had the proper equipment or budget to do things an easier way. So when I created new beds, I did it the back-breaking way by spading up and removing sod. Because I was gardening on such a large scale and hate to see things go to waste, I’ve also been the recipient of countless gifts of perennials. Unfortunately, in some circles the ones I’ve received are regarded as weeds. Well, maybe not weeds in the technical sense, but truly invasive, hardy, volunteer little pests. And of course I’m still waiting for chickweed to be anointed the next great must-have ground cover, at which time mine will promptly die.

This year I vow to reduce the money I spend on annuals. I might not even plant up all the patio pots either. My goal is to finish adding the edging around one remaining bed and to add mulch to all of them for weed suppression. When a crew was hydro-axing road allowances a couple of years ago I sweet-talked them into dropping a few loads of mulch in our yard.

This year I’m trying to work less and enjoy more. You know, smell the roses instead of pruning them. It’s high time, from where I sit.

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