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Farm Life

Food – Glorious Food

Month by Month

Garden Grief

What a mess, and I’m, in part, to blame. I came into the house fully intending to eat dinner, but the grilled chicken my youngest son had prepared was just tasteless; like chewing on cardboard. I was hungry before I went outside. Really – was intending to eat, but a quick walk around the yard revealed something I had been purposely avoiding.

My gardens are a disaster, and I’m to blame. I pride myself on taking care of what I cherish, and I cherish the banks of gardens that surround my home. These are friendship gardens. Ones built over time from cuttings, plantings, gifts from friends. People comment on them; want their own cuttings which I eagerly supply.

Now, though, due to my selfishness, they stand in near ruin. I could blame the flood of rains which swept through Ohio these past three weeks. I could blame my work schedule or my newest venture of working out in the gym, but none of it flies right now. The gardens are weed infested shadows-of-their-former-selves, and I take full responsibility.

Dinner dishes needing washed and work assignments needing written will have to wait. I find my mud stained gloves, throw on my shoes and head outside to the task at hand. I take no prisoners tonight. If a flower head is spent, it is chopped off. No going to seed for you, mister. Yellowed daffodil leaves are gathered up, foxglove are cut back, ground cover that has seen better days, ripped from the dirt. Mountainous weed piles form as a testament to my guilt, but thankfully my anxiety begins to ease. Maybe it is not too late to salvage what has happened.

Though weed-choked, my flowers are very persistent, like a friend who nags with the best of intentions. As I free them from their invaders, the gardens begin to take shape once again, and I see there is hope. The oak-leaf hydrangea – huge in size – looms over a bed where the cosmos have re-seeded; where the day lilies are about to bloom and where the wild blackberries are already turning red. How did I miss all this?

The Heavenly Blue morning glories are already trailing their way along the split rail fence. Bee balm flower heads are forming. My most recent planting – a dwarf Hale Haven peach tree is over-burdened with shooter-sized green fuzzy fruits. When did this happen?

The Ozark Mountain Sundrops brighten the side garden in yellow and the contrasting pink – why can’t I recall their name – flowers with their furry pale green foliage pop from the landscape. This was all going on while my mind was elsewhere.

As a gardener, I am fully aware Mother Nature could, at any time, completely obliterate my handiwork if I gave her enough of an opportunity, and I almost did. Luckily, the wake-up call I needed came today.

As dusk enters in and the mosquitoes begin to make any further work outside almost impossible, my dad rumbles up the drive in his pick-up truck. “Wow, you are really going at it,” he states with a smile looking at what I’d done. He likes when I weed; when the garden beds he shaped with his shovel look as they should.

I mumble something about the damn bugs and the need to clean up the mess I made. And as always, being my dad, he assures me he can pick up the piles I’ve created later – tomorrow when he gets the tractor and cart out. He tells me to go inside. That I’ve done enough for the day. It’s his way of saying it will be okay; the gardens and the mess.

I know there is much more to do. It will be an ongoing thing, but for now, I am glad to feel I have some control of the situation. It was a job that needed done, and one I will continue to work on. The gardens are what bring me joy. I plan to be a better caretaker and do whatever it takes to keep them healthy and happy.

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