From Where I Sit – don’t Look

For the past few weeks, whenever I come home, I hurry from car to house. When I run errands or go to town, I do the same in reverse: house to car. It’s been a busy time of moving from one project to another, from one long to-do list of reminders and obligations to even longer ones. Averting my eyes has been a coping mechanism.

By not looking, I’ve managed to avoid accepting the fact that the flower beds look like they belong in an abandoned farmyard. The quack grass that creeps into the beds is now 18 inches tall. Those suckers love moisture and the recent rain has given them the juice to flourish. In another area, I seem to be losing the battle with toadflax. If it isn’t designated a noxious weed, it should be. It’s kind of attractive with the delicate leaves and miniature yellow snapdragon-like blossoms but it is insidious in how it spreads.

Speaking of insidious, even plants identified as desirable can be invasive. And I’ve got lots of those. Years ago, when I was trying to establish and fill many, many perennial beds, I accepted whatever anyone else was getting rid of. Note to self: if someone is foisting chunk after chunk of greenery on you, run, don’t walk in the other direction.

Deb was a master gardener who shared many gardening tips and plants out of her unbelievably beautiful and huge garden space near Sherwood Park. The heliopsis is welcome, the cranesbill is hell. Her love of Therese Bugnet shrub roses rubbed off on me and I have five. They are quick growing, very hardy shrubs with beautifully scented pink blossoms. With timely deadheading, they bloom over and over again through the season.

Joyce, another painter friend, is the source of the white anemones that are everywhere. An aunt gave me lamium.

Many of the things I bought with cold hard cash and nurtured over the years seem to be toast this year. Whether it was the ongoing drought or the peculiar winter, there seems to be a lot of winterkill.

My bee balm, Joe-pye weed, three ninebark shrubs, and purple coralbells have all gone to that big greenhouse in the sky. Four barberry shrubs are on life support and all the roses need selective amputation. The delicate soapwort plant I bought in a four-inch pot a few years ago has now spread through a lily bed but when we yank out the six-foot ninebark corpse, it will provide fill. On the other hand, the lilies and day lilies can’t spread fast enough for me. The peonies are a source of joy.

I haven’t stepped into a greenhouse or bought a single bedding plant so far this year, which means I haven’t done up any patio pots. And it may not happen. The 25-year-old cotoneaster hedge we chopped down last fall with the intention of replacing it with a lattice fence is now growing like stink. I never should have looked, from where I sit.

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