My flower gardens often resemble the state of affairs in Schultz land. Orientation of new plants
includes only one instruction, “You must be tough to make it in this garden”. I take great care in planting, providing good soil that the clay eventually incorporates and a month of food and water. After that, Darwinism takes over and the majority of plants stretch their roots deep while the weaker species succumb, never to be bought again.
I lavish my plants with praise, not only for their beauty, but also for their inspiring endurance. Occasionally I need to apologize, usually when I have not shown
diligence in defending them from enemies such as dandelions, nightshade, and
thistle. Cutting flowers in bloom makes me feel as though I have robbed my perennials of a year-long effort, so I prefer to buy cut flowers from someone else’s garden. Besides, my lovelies cannot dance in the breeze indoors. The perennials who are
hardy enough to endure all-day sun exposure, clay soil that refuses to be amended,
and very little water that the sky does not provide return year after year like loyal friends. The few annuals who visit for the season are splashy in their vibrant displays of color, but require a level of nurturing I do not possess and typically leave the party early. Due to the undependable and high-maintenance nature of annuals, I do not invest much in them, viewing them only as accessories for my trusted friends the perennials.
Record-high temperatures and very little rain made for an extremely harsh growing season this summer which required extra care and kindness, something I could relate to after losing my job in mid-July. Unlike the company I worked for, I am not heartless and took into consideration the plants’ longevity and past performance. We pay an exorbitant price for water, even though we live in the Great Lakes where one would think there is an abundance of water (Michigan’s water is bottled and sold for corporate profit). Not immune to wilting plants that were obviously struggling, I deemed the extra cost worth the survival of my loyal friends. I wish my former employer possessed an ounce of the same compassion and loyalty, but also see the value in replanting. When I divide and move my plants I sense that it hurts them to be uprooted, especially when the roots run deep and are impossible not to damage. But, they flourish the next year when they have a friendlier spot to grow, a perfect example of positive healthy change.
The gardens went quickly this year, expending all of their energy in a short period and blooming weeks ahead of schedule. It is logical that my garden now looks like it usually does in mid-Fall with red and yellow leaves already falling from our sugar maple. It is cleanup-time and this year I am planning a drastic redesign for both my garden and myself. Although I enjoy the flowering season most, I value the dormant season when we essentially recharge, efforts hidden until it is time to flower once again. Creating
a new landscape is exciting, but a lot of work. I have survived enough growing seasons to know that my efforts will eventually pay off beautifully.