Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Learning to Listen

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that went a bit like this?


I'm quite confident that most of my conversations with Mother Nature follow that plot line exactly. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced I've spent most of the last 19 years only hearing every third word she was saying. She doesn't like it. She doesn't like it all.


Despite her gentle words of advice to me in the spring that perhaps the mistflowers near the river birch needed more sun, the phlox needed more water, and that leaves with spots were a sure sign of disease, that's not what I heard and I failed to follow her guidance.


While this is probably the spot in the post where you expect me to insert a photo of a benevolent green spirit covered with butterflies and leaves, that's not how I view Mother Nature. She may be beautiful and tender but she's a badass momma whose tired of my selective hearing.


Dear Tammy, I got this ink just for you. Mother Nature

I'm not sure if it was the blackspot on the roses, athracnose on the liatris, rudbeckia, and silene, or the mysterious spots on the trumpet creeper leaves, but somewhere along the way, my ass began to hurt and I had this amazing thought that perhaps if I learned to observe my garden and see exactly what was in front of me instead of what I wanted to see, she just might remove her foot for a while. Whispering hadn't worked and I was ignoring all the yelling. While I didn't appreciate the foot-to-ass approach, I can't argue with her methods. It was a definite attention-getter.


"YES! I hear you loud and clear! I will transplant you somewhere moister/drier/sunnier/shadier!"


I occasionally get it right in my garden. 'Starman' geraniums bloom in the late summer with white mistflower. Blue mistflower, on the run from the shade under the river birch, has planted itself at the front of this bed. It's being transplanted to the rain garden with the rest of the free seeding mistflower commune. 


I bought these off the sale table at our local garden center a few years ago. They love moist soil and partial bright shade.


I have a weird spot next to my highly decorative air conditioning units that was choked with weeds and scraggly wood anemones. I decided to fight fire with fire and filled the spot with native pink obedient plant, a vigorous spreader. It overtook the weeds and added a carefree cottagey look to the side of the house. Plus, the bees love it. When it spreads too much, I can just pull up the shoots and compost them or share them with other unsuspecting gardeners.


These remind me of penstemon flowers. 


Sedum grows along the stepping stones that form a short cut between the patio and the lawn.


Blue plumbago and white heart leafed aster divarcatus grow in the bone dry shade under my Rose of Sharon. I'm adding more of both plants to that bed this fall to help fill it out.

I'm linking this post to the Lesson's Learned meme at Plant Postings.

33 comments:

  1. Yes you get it right! And ha...mother nature is screaming in my ear all the time! You crack me up! Wait till I show you our new side yard...gonna need your help....does that native pink obedient plant grow in zone 5??? It is amazing! Have a great Wednesday lady!!!

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  2. Ha, I agree you get it right--even when you get it wrong! Your writing and creative posts are so entertaining. And isn't that part of the fun of gardening--trying new things and learning (or relearning) from the mistakes? Love this post! Thanks for joining in again, Tammy!

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  3. Your picture of Mother Nature is perfect - red hair and glaring green eyes! I suspect she thinks all of her gardening minions are a trifle slow. But she DOES play dirty sometimes. From what I've seen you get it right more often than you give yourself credit for. I love that Geranium 'Starman'.

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  4. Mother Nature sounds like one scarey dame. I fluctuate between taking the easy way out and perfectionism. You just know which day MN is going to show up.

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  5. How funny! I enjoy your sense of humor and positive attitude about gardening. I really like the Starman geraniums. I haven't seen them in our nurseries, but I will be on the look for them. I have heard of Obedient Plant, but it probably isn't native to our area, and I could just imagine Mother Nature shaking her head, wagging her finger, and saying "no!" (But I'm not always obedient to her!)

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  6. Mother Nature has to remind me quite often that I'm not listening. I'm sometimes like a 3 year old pushing the boundaries, but she can be forgiving too. Your garden is beautiful and all the more interesting not despite but because you test her sometimes.

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  7. I've learned quite a lot through the years from Mother Nature. I have fought many battles with her in my garden and lost big time. She really knows her stuff, and I've got so much to learn.
    I love going against the grain sometimes, and I really try to do this in my garden, but she always raps me on the knuckles and say "NO! NO! NO!"

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  8. Ah, you always make me smile !! I now have a vision of a 2 faced Mother Nature - one face gentle, nurturing and kindly, the other a kick ass, scary crone !
    I too put my fingers in my ears and sing loudly sometimes when Mother Nature is speaking ! She always wins in the end ! We know we are doomed to lose !

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  9. I just wish she would make up her mind! Even the Three Little Bears had choice. It seems too much of anything is what she is offering lately. Funny how that works, what we want is not always what we get. You have put a funny spin on the way gardening has been going as of late.

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  10. Not only is Mother Nature a badass momma, she's also fond of sending mixed signals. Sometimes no matter what you do, you're going to get it. But it looks to me as if you have outsmarted her more often than not.

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  11. Paying attention and really seeing what is going on has been the hardest lesson for me too. I miss early signs of distress, and constantly need to remind myself to check not just how the whole garden looks, but how each combination of plants is performing. I usually don't notice anything is amiss until too late! I love that pink obedient plant and how you used it -- I have some thoughts on where that could work for me.

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  12. Ahhhh.....you make me laugh. We keep trying and that's all we can do. But I will have to admit....I am beginning to favor the cacti over plants that require regular watering....even in the pots:) I am dying to get out of my house and begin to garden again....the mosquitoes keep me away. I have a section calling my name....and of course, I need mula to pay for the plants:)

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  13. I always love your illustrations, Tammy - they add so much to your posts. With me, the whispers I tend to turn a deaf ear to are the ones that start, "See those little tiny weeds over there?"

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  14. because we are preparing the garden for future owners - I'm listening VERY carefully when Mother Nature gently suggests - and loving the way the garden responds!

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  15. I just let mother nature take over in my garden. She knows a lot more than me. I only call my plants by colour as I can never remember their proper names. I am simply her servant. I buy it, I plant it, if the critters don't eat it then it grows all by itself. Mind you my garden is so small that the sunny side and the shady side are in the same place. One thing we have in abundance in London is rain. The rain makes everything lush and green. That's good enough for me. Love your garden Tammy and one day when I grow up I'm gonna have a proper garden too.

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  16. That photo of the synchronised swimmer is hilarious! Mother Nature always wins. I have noticed that if I disappear for a week or two, I return to discover that someone has been sowing fast-germinating weeds all over my borders. I think it's Mother Nature's way of making sure I get a workout and don't go to seed myself.

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  17. I guess I need to listen better too because I have had no luck with Blue plumbago. God knows I have lots of dry shade so maybe I should give it another go. I really like the 'Starman' geranium. As for the Obedient plant, it just goes to show you that an in the right spot an aggressive spreader can be a positive not a negative.

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  18. Your lesson learned is one I'm beginning to realise myself!
    Very funny blog, enjoyed. The Obedient plant used to be quite popular over here in the UK but I've not seen it in a garden for a long time. Happy plants are the way forward :)

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  19. My kind of post! I enjoyed this read even if it made me thing about things. I did try to listen to her before but she is so temperamental that she would drive me crazy!!! Now, we sort of have a mutual understanding that I only listen when she is in one of her extreme moods and she doesn't stress me out as much. :-D

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  20. Mother nature is not very gentle, in fact she's kind of a b**ch most of the time! Go ahead and listen though because you might pick up some interesting classroom management ideas!

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  21. "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" - and besides, I doubt it can really be done! We try to fool her, but in the end we're the ones that get the jolt. Thanks for the humorous reminder to go outside and listen to what my plants are telling me!

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  22. Mother Nature...tough love.
    Right now I'm researching ice ages with my kids at school. All of our civilization and gardening only goes back to about 11,000 years...that's just after the last ice age gave up its hold on our planet. Before that we had 90,000 years of mostly cold weather and very bad gardening conditions. And the next ice age starts in just a mere 1,000 years or so. I've GOT to get busy and get my garden finished. Yep, Mother Nature...tough love for a tropical gardener! David


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  23. BWAHAAHHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAAA!!!

    You are brilliant!

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  24. Oh my gosh, I love that first cartoon...yes husbands, that's you.

    Great post, I'm still learning that MN has moods, and it totally depends on where you live as to how she treats you. I can't garden in my west coast mode up here at all...different climate, took 2 summers to figure that one out. duh.

    Anyways, Muddy Boot Dreams has moved, could you please update any links to www.muddybootdreams.com

    It's been lost for awhile, but it's starting to finally show up.

    Jen

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  25. Hi Tammy, I definitely need to listen more too. What I always fail to appreciate is that plants grow and expand and definitely do not stay the same size as when they are potted out for the first time. I've lost whole series of plants as I thought they would make good "companions" and put them close together and all that happens is that one crowds out and kills the other. They then subsequently flop over and grow sideways (smothering what's in front of them) trying to get out from underneath the shade of a shrub that I failed to prune back. It is a bit like "survival of the fittest" in the garden when I'm trying to cram so much in. That picture of the synchronised swimmers is so funny!

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  26. Hard to listen to mother nature when she's so darn finicky. Wet one year, drought the next ;-) Love the obedient plant. It showed up on its own in my garden a couple years ago and I think it's beautiful.

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  27. Boy I am tired of wearing her boot print on my butt...I am doing better and I love how you compost Obedient and share it...tee hee

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  28. Tammy, your photo of the swimmer had me laughing out loud!! Too funny. Oh yes, MN and I have had some heated discussions and, sadly, we ignore each other equally. She does her thing and I do mine and once in awhile it all works out.

    As a huge fan of hardy geraniums I excited to meet 'Starman.' What a beauty. I'm going to have to do some research and find it. Thank you for feeding my plant obsession.

    And thank you so much for featuring little ole me on your Blogger Spotlight. It is indeed an honor! I am so darn bad about visiting blogs and reciprocating but I love your blog and each time I visit I feel the gardener/friend connection. Biggest, squishiest hugs, my dear friend.

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  29. I love your Starman/ mist flower combination! I think you get it right more often than not, but I agree that most of us do get a much needed kick in the behind on occasion!

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  30. I enjpy your hilarious post. Gardenign is actually 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. You did well with your garden in spite of having to be kicked in the ass or perhaps because of it.

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  31. wonderful post, Tammy. Funny, but also thought provoking. We definitely have to make friends with MN. I know she's in charge, but hell, it's my garden, can't I have a say too??????

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  33. A wise and funny post. But I would also point out that MN can be a bit capricious and so we shouldn't be always quick to jump to conclusions about what she is telling us. Sometimes longer observation is needed. By the way, thanks to you I have planted lots of Indian Pink in my back garden and now I am eager to see how they do next year.

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