Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Invertebrate Approach to Gardening

This was originally posted this past January. I am taking a small break from blogging during the holidays and will be back after Christmas.

One of the great advantages of winter is its ability to strip your garden bare, leaving it shivering in its underwear while you dream of summer color and leafy coverage. I do not have a winter garden or much winter interest, aside from a trumpet vine and deutzia that resemble Medusa, but I'm okay with that. My bare bottomed garden gives me a chance to see it as it really is and to make summer plans that work with the bones of my yard.

But that's when things get weird. What kind of bones does my garden have? Does my fence qualify my garden's bones as chicken bones, or am I a woolly mammoth, considering the small swath of native trees left by the builder? Holy Toledo! What if I don't have any bones at all? If my garden were an animal, would it be a squid?  Hmm... In the spirit of ridiculousness and to hopefully start your new year with a smile, I've decided to end the confusion once and for all by creating a quiz to help you determine the boniness of your garden.

How Bony is Your Garden?

If your garden has:

  • a permanent structure with decorative/architectural appeal     +10 points
    • but it's in your neighbors yard     -5 points
  • large trees     +10 points
  • shrubs/trees taller than you are     + 10 points
  • little trees/shrubs with lots of potential     +5 points
  • meandering paths     +10 points
    • a path trampled through the grass by the dog     -5 points
  • stonework     +10 points
    • a pile of stone you might do something with eventually     -5 points
  • dogs, cats, chickens, etc all of which are full of bones     +5 points
  • attractive gate/fence     +10 points
    • but it's held together by a bungee cord     -5 points
  • bird houses and bird baths     +10 points
  • a pond or water feature     +10 points
  • a container pond     +5 points
  • a patio or deck     +10 points
  • evergreens     +10 points
    • a can of green spray paint and red plastic berries     -5 points
Scoring:

0 - 5 points       Squid

Don't fret about being a squid. You are delicious fried and served with marinara. It also means you have a clean canvas with which to dream and design. Anything is possible!

10 - 25 points     Hamster

You're on the right track and with your nocturnal work habits you never have to worry about sunburn. Close your eyes and imagine your garden as you wish it to be. Wait! Take out the winning lottery ticket and try again. Get ready to get dirty and you just might make your wishes come true.

30 - 45 points     Duck-billed Platypus

Not only are you one of the coolest mammals on Earth, but if you're male you have a venomous spur on your back leg that can be handy for securing discounts at your local nursery. Your garden has some excellent beginning boniness. Don't stop now!

50 - 65 points     St. Bernard

Not only do you get to slobber and drool while gardening, but you bring your own drinks and never have to tromp inside in the midst of a project due to dehydration. Clever! Your garden has some fabulous features that go a long way to accentuate your plantings. But we already knew that, considering you were clever enough to bring drinks.

70 - 85 points     Pygmy Elephant

Your excellent swimming ability and incredible strength allows you to garden in all kinds of wet weather. You've given serious thought to your garden design and understand how it is related to your garden as a whole. Either that or you got lucky and bought a house with an awesome garden. Just don't tell anyone. I'd stick with Option A.

90 - 100 points     Bigfoot

You might be elusive but your garden design isn't. If you've noticed your neighbors leaning over the fence/stone wall/hedge it's because they're taking photos and emailing them out to family and friends, pretending your garden is theirs. They're jealous and so am I.

110 - 115 points     T-Rex

You are the Jedi Master of gardening. Your garden has it all, possibly including a ticket booth and long lines. However, if I hide behind the historically accurate, architecturally reproduced garden shed, I might be able to take some cuttings and pictures to help me when I get home. It's cheaper than the gift shop.

I'm a pygmy elephant! I was shocked by this. Here's how I qualified according to the ultrascientific test:


Large trees + 10 points 
Three crepe myrtles, a huge river birch, a 'Yoshino' cherry, several ash trees, and an oak, cedar, and hornbeam left by the builder form the spine of my back garden.


Attractive fence  +10 points

 
Shrubs taller than I am + 10 points
This is a deutzia 'Pink a Boo' underplanted with lamium.


Gate held together with a bungee cord - 5 pts


Patio + 10 points


 Birdhouses and birdbaths + 10 points
I pulled a tiny nest out of this house this fall. I think it was a chickadee. 'Baltyk' clematis grows in the front garden.


I have several birdhouses and birdbaths in the garden. I came up with this idea to help use the extra creeping bramble that had originally been part of the front garden redesign until I changed my mind. The birdhouse is designed for small birds and is made from recycled mango wood.


Stonework + 10 points  
A stone ring circles the zelkova tree in the front and protects it from lawn mower damage. The remaining rock roses are coming out next spring since the area has become too shady and are being replaced with variegated ajuga.


Evergreens + 10 points 
Prague viburnums grow along the side of the house, offering winter protection and summer shade.



Container pond + 5 points
Even though my muck bucket frog pond is inground, I categorized it as a container pond. 'Lime Rickey' heuchera and shasta daisies grow near the rocks.


Here are the 'bones' of my Rose of Sharon. They grew to the second story this summer! The heated bird bath is very popular in winter.


Cute dog, full of bones! + 5 points


Most excellent shed! Unfortunately, it's in my neighbors yard. This photo shows a few of the trees left by the builder as well as the dog run.

40 comments:

  1. Tammy, your thoughts about a garden and animals in it are pretty. But I think you have more experience now then in last January. I love the photo of garden gate and clematis.
    Happy holiday!

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    1. I agree! I've learned a lot in the last two years and have made some changes that aren't visible in these pictures. The clematis is 'Baltyk'. It would do very well in your garden.

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  2. I've got the cute dog -5 points!!!

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  3. I missed this post last year, its a fun one.I scored a Bigfoot. How come it feels like my garden is a platypus? The grass is always greener, they say.

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    1. I feel like more of a guinea pig or a hedgehog than a pygmy elephant but who am I to argue with a test as scientific as this one? ;o)

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  4. I love this post, and I, too, am a pygmy elephant. I aspire to be a big foot, as I am constantly fantasizing about a decent-sized water feature.

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    1. I want to be Bigfoot, too, just with less hair. :o)

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  5. I'm half pygmy elephant/ half hamster! I hope I don't dream about that particular creature tonight. Fun post :-)

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    1. Now that would be a creature I'd like a picture of!!

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  6. Tammy: This was a very useful quiz--I remember taking it last year and was surprised to find out I was a pygmy elephant. This cracks me up. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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  7. Thanks for the re-post. Your pics put my garden to shame. *sigh* Good thing I'm not the envious type. *heh* Enjoy your blog holiday. We'll look forward to new posts. :-D

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    1. Your garden is beautiful! I'm just lucky enough not to have a deer problem.

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  8. Enjoy your break, Tammy. I look forward to your return with more fine pieces. Cheers.

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    1. Thanks! I have a few in the stew pot that I'm working on. :o)

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  9. I remember this post, very funny! :) Enjoy your holidays!

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  10. Too much fun!! Loved this post... have a great holiday, I'll be visiting when you get back! Cheers.

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  11. So I'm NOT The only one with a fence held together with a bungee cord. Shwew!

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    1. All the coolest gardeners use bungee cords. :o)

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  12. What a fun post! You always give us new ways of looking at our gardens :) Great idea to take a break, enjoy it.

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  13. I remember this post! Think I was stuck in squid land then and still am now. More trees and shrubs come spring, that's what I need.

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    1. You may be a squid now but you have Bigfoot plans. :o)

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  14. Tam - I'd like to suggest another item to your 'bones' list. It's something I feel is important in a garden but many gardens don't have.

    And that is - seating.

    I've visited some lovely gardens, but there wasn't a place to sit and contemplate or rest or chat. Ever since I've added the (now 4 benches and 1 set of garden chairs), I've gotten so much more enjoyment from my own gardens. Sitting in new places gives different perspectives and generates new ideas. On a cool day I can always find a place in the sun. On a hot one - shade. Seating areas are a great spot to plant fragrant herbs to brush or dwarf plants that invite closer inspection. Also, benches/etc. encourage guests to wander, giving them someplace to head for.

    And, last (finally *heh*) my places to sit seem to humanize any garden. It implies that the gardens aren't just a pretty place to LOOK at, but a place to join and become part OF it.

    I know I got a little carried away here, but your post just seemed to be the perfect opportunity add another (waaaait for it....) benchmark to your garden bones checklist. :-D

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    1. I agree with you completely! The only sitting places in my garden are the chairs by the patio table. But every summer we put up a big hammock, which is an excellent substitute for garden seating, although the hammock is next to the garden instead of in it. :o) A long antique metal lounge chair would be wonderful. I like chairs you can slouch in.

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  15. Have a great break! I went back and looked at my score last year - St. Bernard. This year? Still St. Bernard. I really must do something with those stones piled up! Maybe this next year will be my "break out" year! :)

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    1. You have all winter to dream up a wonderful project for all those stones. :o) I wish I had more stone accents in my yard. They have such a timeless character.

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  16. Hilarious! Apparently I am a St. Bernard, though when I get rid of the pond I will be in danger of being demoted to a duck billed platypus, so I guess I need to plant some more trees!

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    1. Platypus shed less than St. Bernard's anyway! :o)

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  17. St Bernard! I'm happy with that.
    Merry Christmas!

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  18. Haha this is awesome. Your posts are also so much fun to read :-D

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours! May your season be a blessed one!

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    1. You, too! Your adorable dog has the perfect head for a pair of fake antlers! :o)

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  19. I love this. Your High Score is well deserved. I've got the cat rather than the dog. Have a nice break.

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    1. Thanks! I have some post ideas simmering that I'm looking forward to publishing in January.

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  20. I am a Big Foot... not something I've ever aspired to be. I won't ever progress out of this state unless you count the neighbor's cat and dog, both of whom I don't like. Fun post!

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    I hope you can make it!

    Cheers,

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    ReplyDelete

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