Friday, February 20, 2015

The Madness Monologues


When I was a kid my mother, who was a nurse, kept a copy of the Merck Manual on her desk. At over 4,000 pages, it housed a diagnosis for everything that ailed you. If your problem   wasn't in the Merck, it was all in your head.  But even the Merck has its limits. Despite reaching epidemic proportions every winter and spring, Geospatial Gardening Disorder has yet to be included.


I suppose tying the children to the roof instead of the plants would be considered poor taste...

As defined by me, Geospatial Gardening Disorder is diagnosed by the delusion that you actually have room in your garden for all the plants you've purchased. Symptoms of full blown GSGD manifest themselves through pacing about the garden with plant/seed catalogs or a laptop in tow and frustrated muttering that if only the afflicted were able to move the property stakes over an extra 40 feet or so, they could annex their garden for free. Missing chunks of lawn and numerous large boxes marked Live Plants! signal the severity of the disease. But be careful! Should you stage an intervention and attempt treatment without the help of a trained professional you risk angering a person well equipped to use a shovel and dig large holes. Chances are, no one will miss you. Consider yourself warned.


Resistance is futile. 

Having gone undiagnosed for years, I've developed a variety of coping skills to help me deal with this fabulous affliction. But the only one that is mildly effective is the employment of the Voice of Reason. I do not like the Voice of Reason.


Rock, paper and scissors give up for the day.  

I recently became convinced my overstuffed garden had room for a giant pincushion flower (cephalaria gigantea). However, the Voice of Reason, a nasty beast if there ever was one, did not agree. Much arguing commenced and after a few frustrated shouts of, "Giant is not Swahili for 'Yes, this will fit in your garden' " I reluctantly accepted defeat. But during a recent daylily buying bender, I turned the voice off and went shopping. Unsupervised is not a wise choice for me.



However, by the next morning, I had some explaining to do.
VoR: I can't believe you bought more daylilies! These are on your Do Not Buy list because you have so many. As a matter of fact, you gave away arm loads of them recently. 
Me: Because they're orange and purple and fragrant and have cool names.  
VoR: Please tell me you didn't buy these because of their names.
Me: Imagine the entire US/Canadian border crowded with people yelling ,"Halt! I have a daylily!". I had no choice.

Early October 2014

I should have armed my less vigorous plants with spears and burning torches to fend off the mighty mist flower invasion but then resistance would have been feudal. 

But occasionally, I'm able to persuade the Voice of Reason that a purchase isn't just necessary, but absolutely vital. When part of my rain garden became engulfed in native blue mist flower and tiny frost asters I knew salvation lie in ripping out swaths of blue fluffy flowers and replacing them with rudbeckia seedlings, actea 'Black Negligee', and pink lobelia 'Monet's Moment'.

From left to right - Actea 'Black Negligee (cimicifuga), rudbeckia 'Goldsturm', lobelia 'Monet's Moment', blue mist flower, and pink chelone 'Hot Lips'. I love my mist flowers so I saved a chunk growing near the chelone.

As I paced the garden muttering to myself, I negotiated moving the native asters to another spot and filling the empty hole with as much lobelia as I could. I could feel the opposition rising like bubbles to the surface as the Voice of Reason countered my move.
VoR: That's a lot of pink. 
Me: That's the point.
VoR: At least it's not a giant daylily.

72 comments:

  1. Listen, here are my two cents. There's always room in the garden for something:) I am still finding spots to put all my cacti. Yesterday I hacked and hacked away at some of them .....and then transplanted the new ones in between bushes and trees:) I still have to trim the trees and create a "good looking" brush pile for my birds and lizards, but it's all pretty cool stuff. That's the best part about gardening.....it's life long. I did reach a point a couple years back where I took a break, but I'm starting to put in more plants again:) You keep doing the same!

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    1. I'm always putting in, rearranging, editing my plants. It's like musical chairs out there. :o)

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  2. Baaa ha shah…you made my day Miss Casa Mariposa….there's ALWAYS room for one more, that's my mantra. You are in good company with your disorder, I think you will find. Voice of Reason can be bonked on the head with a shovel.

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  3. Oh dear, I am afraid I suffer from GSGD too, really badly. My voice of reason don’t win very often I am afraid, hence my nearly 400 pots that still hasn’t got a space in the ground!
    Very well written article, have you thought of submitting it to The Lancet?

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    1. 400!!! Wow! Maybe I should submit this just as a joke. But they may not find it as amusing as we do. ;o) They may be in denial.

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  4. I suffer the same affliction, but didn't realise that it had a name - I have been having therapy for it for years. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

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    1. You are much more enlightened than I am. I refuse all therapy!

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  5. A voice of reason is highly highly overrated in my books. We parted company a long time ago! I seem to have a serious over abundance of yarn on my house, I'll
    Never knit it all. And yet I work p/t in a wool shop enabling other like minded folk and enticing newbies in the wonder of wool acquisition. I think We are all doomed but as I say to those feeling sorta guilty about their yarn stashes...it's not going up your noses! Case closed . Perspective has been restored. Hard to snort a day lily, just sayin!! So what's so cool one of my newbie knitters, and a keen one at that, is a master gardener!! Pass the smelling salts!!!! I love the Canadian Border Patrol Daylily, kinda sums it up quite nicely!

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    1. My mom had a horde of yarn and fabric that could have clothed entire continents. When I stopped sewing, I gave all my fabric stashes to a neighbor who was an avid quilter and belonged to a group that made quilts for children in shelters. It felt good to get rid of it to a such a worthy cause. But if anyone tried to remove a plant from my garden and tell me it was for my own good, they might feel the action end of my shovel before they ever saw it.

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  6. You crack me up! I justify my condition by telling myself that I still have lawn, so I still have room. But, lets not even talk about how many packets of seeds I have for my curbside vegetable garden. (over 100…ack!) Thanks for making me laugh, Tammy!

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    1. I've become a seedaholic, too! I can't eat up too much of my lawn because I always need a spot to put my hammock. Plus, in a few years I'm planning on putting a pond right smack in the middle, assuming my garden hasn't reached that spot first. :o)

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  7. If I ever come across Actea Black Negligee there ain't no VoR gonna be strong enough.,

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    1. I hope they sell it in the UK! I just added a few tiny plants last fall so it may be a while before they look that full. But everything in that mosaic will bloom at the same time, which I'm excited about.

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  8. I was just, like 10 minutes ago, eyeing the meadow and estimating how much sod I could turn under in the next two weeks. There is another useful book called, for short, the blue book. It is a listing of all drugs known to man with extensive lists of side effects and contraindications. My husband loves the thing. As soon as he is prescribed something out comes the book. He has even slept with it cradled in his arms, absolutely and sadly true.

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    1. Turn over ALL the sod and when your husband asks where the meadow went, just tell him there never was a meadow. He must have just imagined it. Perhaps it was a side effect.

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  9. That combination you have in that last shot up there is amazing! Such a fantastic way to describe this affliction!!! I say stuff it in! And every day lily you have in this post is stunning!!! Happy weekend friend! Nicole xo

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    1. I am a sucker for daylilies. I always buy too many and then end up editing my clumps and giving loads of them away. My friends and neighbors never complain but I do need to stop buying them.... Maybe...

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  10. That first photo reminded me of when I worked at a nursery and a customer wanted us to put like a 300 lb. B&B tree on the roof of his minivan. "It's okay," he said. "I'm an engineer." So we did what the gentleman asked.

    I'm starting over with a new, empty garden, so GSGD won't require treatment for awhile yet. Three or four weeks, at least. ;)

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    1. An empty garden?? How exciting! Get thee to a plant swap and swap munchies for plants. I would have a very hard time pacing myself if I had an entire garden to fill. I might have wanted a liability waiver before tying a giant tree to the roof of a car! Poor tree!

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  11. I have planted many things because of their names...it's as good a reason as any. I'm sure the side effects of treatment are much worse than the condition itself. I suggest you learn to live with an excess of joy.

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    1. Life is a choice and I choose happy. But when I head to Toronto this June, maybe I should bring a few Canadian Border Patrol daylilies just in case I am hassled. ;o)

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  12. So sorry to hear about your affliction. I have more than enough room, I just have trouble deciding what to move over just a little bit to get the new plants in. Also my neighbor has sooooo much empty mulch space. I'm going to move my chrysanthemum collection over there as a favor to cover some of the boringness. Good thing I just ordered another mum collection to fill in all those gaps that will now show up in my own garden. I was lucky to find the mums, I didn't even know I needed more, plus I'm actually saving money since I won't need to buy any flowering ones this fall.
    The giant pincushion flower barely takes up any room. It's all up in the air and you can easily plant a couple other things underneath, and if you grow it from seeds (its supposed to be easy) the seedlings are even smaller. You might need more plants to fill in while it develops though....

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    1. I told myself the same thing about giant pincushion flower until the VoR dragged me through a garden tour of Google Images and I saw how truly huge it gets. I just don't have that much room to give it. My beds are too full of everything else! But I just found out my neighbors are moving so this is the perfect time to dig up my fence posts and move them all over 10 or 20 feet. No one will ever know.... ;o)

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  13. Oh, I hate that Voice of Reason. My husband sometimes tries to use it on me, kind of like "The Voice" in the book Dune. Lately, I have been making an effort to buy things only if I know where they're going. I know that resolution won't last long...

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    1. I normally take that same approach. I'm actually a rather logical, rational person. But I have no sense of space or depth perception, which gets me into trouble when I think I have more room than I do. I have spots for all my new plants. At least, as I look out over a snow covered garden, I think I do....

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  14. But, why, oh, why can't we all just get along?! The following mottos help me deal with my own case of GSGD: a) Duking it out builds a toughness of character; b) The strongest will survive; c) A pretty and sweet exterior may hide the heart of a lion(ess); and d) Sacrifices may be necessary for the greater good (of the garden). Of course, I still have lots of lawn left to take out, which helps too...

    I think you need to try out new daylilies. Tell the VoR that you're setting yourself up as a voluntary testing facility for growers. Your testimonials will be invaluable to other gardeners in your area. Your're performing a service - really.

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    1. Love it!! Too bad all these nurseries aren't paying me to run my "trials". ;o)

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  15. By God, you've got a real ally in Kris above, she has the VoR all figured out! We could actually do a contest of our own variations of gardens VoRs and have a prize for the most banal and irritating--they SO cramp our style don't they? I went for the Actea, Black Negligee this year for the first time because I was able to go "la la la la....can't hear you VoR....la la la la" and I got my Black Negligee X2. They are happy. I cracked up at Susan's comment (above). That Merck book really was compelling if you have a trace of hypochondria, which I cop to. They have a little in common with seed catalogs now that I think about it...

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    1. I find books like the Merck fascinating but I always think I'm fine, even when I'm not. Even when something does pop up, I know I'll be fine eventually. But I am good at finding spots for all my new plant acquisitions which of course then fuels further purchases....

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  16. What a marvellous post and every gardener recognises the symptoms of this incurable disease. I never, ever listen to the V of R. The Voice of Reason has no poetry in its soul. It is bossy, boring and pedestrian. Besides you can always dig up more lawn. I love your Black Negligee.

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    1. The Voice of Reason is a big stick in the mud, although it occasionally has been known to offer good advice. I am very excited to see the Black Negligee grow and thrive and, of course, the name is just perfect. ;o)

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  17. I once worked with someone who had a variety of afflictions (I am not sue they were all in Merck) including a problem with hoarding. She had a big SUV that only had room for one person, the driver. In the way back she overwintered several plants.

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    1. Having moved 17 times in 34 years thanks to a Navy father and an Air Force husband, I am the anti-hoarder. Having an SUV crammed full of stuff 24/7 would drive me nuts. How did she ever water her plants? She might be the perfect inspiration for an addendum to the Merck.

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  18. Where can acquire a Voice of Reason of my very own? Also, are there support groups for victims of GSGD?

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    1. The support group meets at the local garden center. ;o)

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  19. It's not in Merck and it's not in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition so it doesn't exist. There is always room for something more in your garden and you don't yet have a plastic pot ghetto where all of your nursery purchases just keep getting put in larger and larger pots. The buying of more plants than one has space for is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity... (Apologies to A. Edwarnd Newton.) It's not an affliction, it's a noble cause. The horticulture industry in this country needs help and you are reaching out in a special way to assist them. I salute you and hope to follow your fine example. That pesky V.O.R. thing - Maybe a nice cloth soaked with ether and held tightly over it's nose and mouth every time it tries to speak would help. Better yet, give it the shovel treatment and be done with it once and for all! More plants is always the answer!

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  20. I sympathize with your affliction and am wondering why on earth you would want to be rid of those lovely blue mist flowers? gorgeous to my eyes. But then sacrifices must be made when there are purple daylilies to find a spot for.

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    1. I have blue mist flowers everywhere in my garden - loads and loads of them. I saved a huge chunk and then moved some more of them to another spot. If I didn't thin them out sometimes, they'd suffocate everything.

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  21. Oh yes, beware the Voice of Reason! The only influence I dislike more than the VoR is the VoB (Voice of Budget). Unfortunately, it is much more convincing and much more depressing. (Sometimes we have to ignore both of these evil influences to achieve our dreams.)

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    1. I have respect for the Voice of Reason but truly despise its evil, fun-sucking sidekick, the Voice of Budget. I've come up with all kinds of ways to outwit both of them. ;o)

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  22. Oh the dreaded GGD...yes I have been undiagnosed as well for years and that Voice of reason is chained in my basement gagged.

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    1. My dementia is kicking in. I've already forgotten what it's the voice of. What were we talking about?

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  24. Beautiful day lilies! I can't wait to see yours on the summer.

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    1. Thanks! I hope they look as good as the pictures!

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  25. I have a suspicion it might be virtually contagious. I am sure reading all these gardening blogs does not help. As for having the support group meet in garden centers, it is like having AA meetings at a bar!

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    1. I never said it was a very effective group. ;o)

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  26. I like Alain's comment. I am luck or unlucky (depending on your perspective) to still have some room for new plants. Every year I seem to kill of just enough plants to make room for a few new ones.

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    1. Me, too! I'm wondering what this seasons casualties will be. I know some of the perennials I overwinter in my pots are toast because of our nasty subzero cold snap. I might need to go shopping... ;o)

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  27. Hi Tammy, this is fantastic! This is exactly what I have, especially with the last garden, which was tiny, but there's always a way to make things fit, even if I have to use a crowbar to get the plant in, it *will* fit! I thought the remedy to this was to move to a much larger garden, which is exactly what we did, but all that happens is that your plans scale up. I mean, why have one rambling rose when there is room for eight? Why sow just a couple of packs of seeds when it's clear you'll need many more and don't worry about trying to squeeze all those plants in, there's *always* room!

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    1. It's incurable. We'll have to deal with this wonderful malady forever. But a larger garden automatically means you need more more more plants. That's such a no-brainer so your decision was totally based on sound and wholly logical reasoning.

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  28. Ah yes! The VOR.....Unfortunately I have selective hearing! I have the same problems, I also buy plants unsuited to this climate and forget to put them in the greenhouse....and I plant things too close together as I can't wait for them to grow....oh, the list is endless! Loved this!xxx

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    1. I have that same hearing issue. But I've been cured of buying plants that are dependent on a mild winter. Last years brutal winter killed several expensive shrubs so if the plant isn't hardy to at least 1 or 2 zones below mine, I won't buy it unless it's an annual.

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  29. Nonsense! There is always room for one more! And a name is as good a reason as any to buy a plant. How could anyone resist actea 'Black Negligee?' Your garden is going to be gorgeous with your new selections!

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    1. Thanks! I do love the name! It seems so flirtatious. I'm excited to see such dark foliage paired with the vivid brights of the rudbeckia and lobelia. Everything in that collage will bloom at the same time so I'm hoping for a good show. :o)

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  30. Brilliant as always and I am so pleased you have highlighted the plight of those suffering with this shocking affliction. Happily, it has not yet reached these shores. #stillindenial

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  31. Now I know the name of the disease that I've had for years....doctors didn't have a clue...thank you Tammy.

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  32. Nursery owners love people with this affliction. :)

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  33. Your posts so often make me laugh out loud, Tammy! My husband just came hustling into the room to see what was so funny. Self-appointed as my Voice of Reason, he just did not find this as humorous as I. "Halt, I have a daylily!" LOVE it! -- Kimberley

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    1. My husband just smiles and nods to everything garden-related I say. It's so much safer that way. ;o)

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  34. Oh, that VOR. Don't we love to hate it! There could never be too much pink, by the way. I had 'Monet Moment' Lobelia but it died, dammit. I think I need to get it again, VOR be damned. I hope you're writing a garden book. So many will be able to relate to it.

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    1. I've read they like to have their crowns exposed and dry in the winter so I may mulch them with gravel. I don't know when I'd have time to write a book. I just spent three hours on a Friday night grading student projects. Gah!!

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  35. VOR---I shut it out! A girl can never have enough plants-LOL

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  36. I have that medical condition too! Sarah x

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