Friday, June 19, 2015

The Kindness Quotient

Most gardeners, I've discovered, are a rather supportive bunch. They're forgiving when you explain that you have yet to find dogs whose anuses are purely decorative and that despite having just scooped, they've already crapped in the garden or wallowed in the anemones like a furry, farting hippo. They're kind when you explain that you didn't kill your plants but rather they were heaved from the soil, kicked out of the garden by Mother Nature herself, the moodiest of dames. 



Bug party on a summer flowering bulb I can't remember the name of.

However, despite the love we often share with others, we can be absurdly critical of our own gardens. We apologize, explain, and rationalize our decisions, fearful of being judged. Sometimes the gardener we need to be the kindest to is our self.



I paused while weeding to take this photo. Self seeded orange milkweed is allowed to grow where it lands. In the fall I'll transplant it to empty spots in the garden. A few chunks of yellowroot (Xanthoriza simplicisima) have broken away from the group under the viburnum and are headed for the lawn where death by mower awaits. I didn't realize I'd purchased different mulch until it was too late. Oh well... 

This massive shrub was planted about three feet from house when I purchased it as a wee thing. I could blame it on a lack of research, exhaustion, cluelessness, or any variety of ailments that turn the most rational slab of humanity into a quivering blob of contradictions but I won't. My viburnum tooclosetothehouseum offers privacy and a perfect spot to bird watch. I'm done being embarrassed about it. As a matter of fact, I'd rather save my embarrassment for something much more interesting such as naked ping pong at midnight with a band of drunken gypsies or horrible karaoke. 



Winter sown calendula with variegated mint and a begonia I've named Hans. 


I just love these simple flowers.


These leaves should be dark green...

As for my calendula, I've decided to ignore the spider mites who are tunneling through its leaves after decimating my phlox. The Spider Mite Artist Colony has created custom variegation, making my calendula a masterpiece of insect artistry while the phlox sprouts new growth. The only true damage they caused was to my ego and I've survived worse. 



61 comments:

  1. So true, Tammy, I am the most critical and apologetic when it comes to my own garden. I apologize for it being small, though it's so darned crowded that if I moved everything I would probably have enough plants to fill an acre! At least you have a nicely mulched border; it keeps raining and raining here so that I can't even get mulch down. I do like your Viburnum tooclosetothehouseum; looks like a great hiding spot:)

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    1. It is a great hiding spot! If I were a kid, I'd hide in there and spy on people. ;o) I do love a nicely mulched border. I'm kind of tidy like that. We all need to stop apologizing. It's just ridiculous and I'm as guilty as anyone.

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  2. Viburnum tooclosetothehouseum is exactly what I have! I thought it was called something else, but I was wrong -- you have clarified the nomenclature for me and now I know what I have planted (in several spots, actually). Ha.

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  3. That last photo is gorgeous, Tammy!

    I think the bugs partying in the first flower could be soldier beetles, which are generally considered beneficial insects. So good on ya! :) http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/soldier.html

    As for calendula, I like the flowers, but I had the same problems you did with the stipling on the leaves. It wasn't spider mites (I might have been able to tolerate those), but leaf hoppers, which drove me nuts with their hopping (and were leaping onto other nearby plants and spreading devastation in their wake).

    So no more calendulas for me. Can't say I miss 'em all that much.

    PS - You're totally right on how we're all way too tough on our own gardens. My neighbor has some lovely gaura and Russian sage blooming, but she focuses on the fact that the deer have eaten all the flowers off her hostas.

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    1. Thanks! I did get lucky with the last picture. :o) It was interesting how all those beetles were so determined to hang out in that one little flower. When they ran out of room, they just stood on each other. I've never grown calendula before. I really thought it was a cool season plant that would croak as soon as it warmed up but it keeps going. I had purchased a few begonias - whom I've named Hans and Frans - to fill its pot I think it's here for the duration and that's just fine by me.

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  4. I like the way you think. My way of gardening tends towards the "OMG, I have got to get this in the ground before it dies!" I have to learn not to bemoan my dying bleeding heart and focus on my poppies.

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    1. Bleeding heart goes dormant every summer (usually) so it will be back. We are all too hard on ourselves. Sometimes I have to look at my garden and remind myself that it is what it is and to my eyes, it's pretty damn fine, weeds and all.

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  5. Gardening is a good teacher, so many lessons to learn. We are supportive because we know how much work is involved.

    Reading your sidebar just as my husband remarked that I have left my clippers out in the rain (again). I replied that at least they're the same pair I left out last time!

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    1. I laughed out loud at this! Most of my tools are rusty to some degree. :o)

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  6. Why are we so hard on our own gardens, but so forgiving of others? There's the perpetual "oh you should have seen it last week" that I am constantly finding dripping off of my tongue. And that's just for non gardening oh it's gorgeous neighbors who truly don't care that there is a weed hiding in the masses of lavender, and couldn't tell it apart if they did see it.....

    Got any solutions for a peony that is pouting because of a thrift infestation that makes your poor calandula look healthy?

    Jen

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    1. I wish I had peony advice! I have single peony that seems to do fine without any help from me. I'm not sure what's worse - tiny, chlorophyll sucking bugs or the ones that eat the entire leaf.

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  7. Hey, who cares if the Calendula leaves look like crap when the flowers are so pretty? I adore Calendula, and have it growing in my garden too. We are too tough on ourselves, and don't know how to take a compliment about the garden when someone offers one. Whenever someone tells me my garden is beautiful, I feel compelled to say how much work it is, or to point out the weeds. I should just say thank you.

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    1. Why is taking a compliment so hard? It should be easy. I dismissed a compliment someone gave me once and quickly realized by her facial expression how much I had hurt her. From then on, I learned to just say thanks and receive it as a gift.

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  8. Tammy, the bug party looks like something you'd sit and watch for a very long time and they probably help attract birds into your garden too. I agree with everything though except the dog poop. I have a dog myself with a fully functioning backside But I have worked in other folks gardens with dogs, trod in it unknowingly, knelt down and poop is transferred to trousers. I worked for a woman whose garden was on TV last week and she let her dog out and it crapped within a foot of me as I was knelt down and weeding. Rant over!

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    1. I would have been so mad! My four dogs are super poopers. They definitely need less fiber in their diets. Really, I'd just prefer they learn how to use the toilet. ;o)

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  9. Really? Naked ping pong? You have fun friends! As for the rest, well, yes to all of the above. I'm teaching myself to say "thank you" when my garden is complimented upon, but like so many others, I can't resist discussing just how pretty it was before, or after...whatever. And of course, learning by mistakes is the gardener's credo.

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    1. I've never played naked ping pong but am up for a game. ;o) I do have some pretty crazy friends but I think bathing suits would need to be involved.

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  10. OMG Tammy girl ( you had me tearing up with laughter over the dog butt comments ... cats have them too girl ! haha)
    It is true that we are so self critical about our gardens .. the HUGE maple in our back garden .. Pacific Sunset Maple ... everyone comments on it but we know we will have to move out of the house because it is going to take over some year and kick us out ! Lack of research ? I feel in love with the potential leaf colour in Autumn .. what happens when it is ready to glorify my choice ? BLACK TAR SPOT .... 2 strikes now .. well three if you count the branches tickling our feet on the deck ?
    I love the custom variegation of that foliage girl .. run with it ! .. simple flowers are some times VERY needed ... well done you !
    That last picture ? stunning ... perfection !
    Joy : )
    I knew that was you on YouTube ! Naked Ping Pong Lady ! hahahaha

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    1. The calendula foliage gets weirder by the day but so what. It's like a piece of kinetic art. Every time I look at it, I see something different. I definitely got lucky with the last pic. :o) I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. :o)

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  11. Such a funny post! I love that last photo!!!!
    But, I actually quite like the viburnum where it is. If people disapprove of your garden plantings, you could always explain it as a deliberate "choice" designed to soften the harsh angles of the house :-)

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  12. It is so true that we are hardest on ourselves. We all do it. We even point out the problems in our gardens. Most of the time if we only shut up no one would notice!

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    1. Wise words! Most people don't see the flaws til we point them out, so why point them out?

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  13. Same experience here: Gardeners are very friendly to other gardeners, but very hard on themselves. I definitively fall under that category. My perfectionism often gets the better of me when gardening, but mother nature puts it all in perspective, because there is no perfect garden ever to have, but there are perfect and magical moments to find any day in the garden.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. That is the truth! Perfection is ephemeral and subjective, anyway.

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  14. I too think that gardeners are a friendly group of people though you nailed it on the head when it comes to looking at our own gardens. You are beyond clever and hilarious with your naked ping pong piece my friend! HA! Seriously needed this as I watch more of my tree die day by day. And yes the privacy that your viburnum creates up there is spot on. I also think that the size suits the size of your house. And how beautiful is that last shot with the sun pouring over your beauties like that! Wishing you good times in the garden this weekend! And I so would not have noticed the mulch if you didn't point it out! Happy days you! Nicole xoxo

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    1. I'd never thought about how my tall, wide house needed a tall, wide shrub but it does work well and it does sharpen that corner. So from now on, it was a design choice rather than a design disaster. :o)

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  15. But the sun back-lighting the grass and Agastache proves your brilliance as a gardener! We gardeners have to remember that we're caretakers, not gods - unfortunately, we can't control the weather, fungal diseases or the critters with whom we share our world. (And, if you hadn't announced that the variegated Calendula foliage was created by spider mites, I totally would have believed it was a mutant form.)

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    1. I'm going to have to remember that one - "We're caretakers, not gods". So much is just beyond our control. The spider mites are quite artistic! Thanks for the garden love about the pic. :o)

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  16. You are so right. I've heard some with glorious gardens point out the perceived flaws. I haven't got a good sense of an overall plan for a garden (maybe I should be kinder to myself), but I do enjoy having one! I enjoyed your sense of humour as well as you garden photos, particularly the final one.

    Karen

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    1. I don't think gardens have to have plans. They just have to make us happy. :o)

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  17. Beautiful garden! This is a bug season on my garden right now, so there's bug party everyday

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    1. The bug party will continue in my garden for the next several months. :o)

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  18. Those Calendula flowers are nice, I wonder why I never grow them. The damaged foliage looks attractive in the photo, could you pretend you just have the latest fancy cultivar? It is true that gardeners - and nice people generally - are often their own worst critics. This is bad, in part because it gives not nice people, who are never self-critical, an advantage they shouldn't have. I think my entire garden consists of plants put too close together, but I've mostly stopped worrying about it. Lovely photos, by the way!

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    1. The calendula is so fancy, every single one is a unique masterpiece. Jerks definitely aren't as reflective or self-aware as nicer people. My garden is packed with plants, but that's how I like it. :o)

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  19. Yelp....my yard is often the messiest in the neighborhood. I say it is a work in progress...and it is. I started with a blank slate, so it has to get messy before it gets better! ~Julie

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    1. Every garden is a work in progress. :o) I just replaced a bunch of plants that either died or looked stoopid.

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  20. Lol....you do make me laugh....and I love how you share, warts and all!
    How true re being kind to ourselves as gardeners, I berate myself several times a day! I love your viburnum, I can't wait until mine grows to that size, as you say, privacy and great for birdwatching....
    Hans....hahaha...WOT are you like Mrs?????xxx

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    1. Warts and all is how I roll... :o) I am always working to fix the weird spots in my garden and like how gardening can be like putting together a living puzzle but it's absurd that we see what's wrong instead of what's right. I was outside tonight thinking about how much I loved my garden, weird spots and all. It was full of birds and pollinators, which made it perfect and beautiful.

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    2. Amen to that! Now...naked ping pong? lol...xxx

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  21. I think that in many instances, other gardeners do not see our gardens through the same eyes that we do. They do not see the time spent, the problems that have been solved (or are ongoing) but see only the overall. And the overall usually looks good to them.
    Ray

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    1. I totally agree. It's rare that my neighbors ever knock on my door. They just wait for me to come outside since that's usually where I am. They see how much work goes into the garden and are always commenting on it. I once commented that I needed to redo an entire area because it looked bad and my neighbor yelled, "Are you crazy?". It was just the perspective I needed. :o)

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  22. Ha, Hans is very lovely, 'variegated' foliage and all! It is so easy for us to be critical of our own gardens. We see all the little weeds coming up and the things we need to put on our 'to do' list to make the garden 'just right', as if there was such a state. Sometimes we just have to step back and enjoy all the beauty that is there.

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    1. Considering the severe lack of cholorphyll, I'm surprised the calendula is even alive. What a tough plant! "Just right" doesn't exist. I'm learning to appreciate 'as is'. :o)

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  23. Thanks for being honest. I so appreciate that in you. ;-) I can't even imagine including my own garden in a garden tour: It's just way too far from tidy. Some times of year are better than others, though. Great shot of the soldier beetles on the blue flower! Wow, you have so many Asclepias tuberosa plants! I only have a small patch. Love that plant!

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    1. Sometimes I think I'm too honest. Perhaps I should try being more mysterious. ;o) The only people touring my garden are close friends who know how much work is involved to keep it so well maintained. Let your milkweed go to seed and you'll have lots of seedlings next year. :o)

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  24. You're right Tammy. We're critical about ours gardens. But I love your border made of mulch, good idea. I also liked these calendula, I should sow it next winter too. There a lot of insects in my garden as well. Aphids and bugs, some dark spots on leaves. We all work hard every time in garden and it's a pleasure to sit and take a look around!

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    1. The mulch border prevents the flowers from being run over and chopped up by the lawn mower. Plus, I like how tidy it looks. :o) I love to just sit in my garden and enjoy the beauty. :o)

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  25. I may encourage you to be positive, but truth be told, I could use to ease up on myself and my own garden. Last week I visited another local garden that was larger than mine and meticulously maintained. She had no crew, just herself pulling the weeds. I came home to my own garden and looked around at my jungle and wondered what I was doing wrong. It is hard sometimes to stay positive, but being negative hasn't left me any better off.

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    1. I'm a very positive person but there's a big difference between negativity and honesty. I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor and have no problems poking fun at myself. But seeing something with a eye for how problems can be solved is not the same as demeaning oneself or comparing one garden to another. Your garden is stunning and is the inspiration behind many of my planting designs. I have a few weeds I let grow because I think they're pretty!

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  26. Well, this post just made me laugh out loud more than once! You really do need a sense of humour (and a good one at that) to be a gardener otherwise you would spend the better part of every day cursing all the uncontrollable adversities thrown your way. The one constant in gardening is that every year brings with it new challenges, be it insects, diseases or the weather.

    And what satisfaction would there be, really, if everything was perfect all the time? One of the best things about having a garden is working in it. Constant perfection? Big yawn. Or maybe I just say that because of the constant state of imperfection in my garden...;)

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    1. Hooray! Humor is required to be a gardener. :o) An area where I used to have loads of columbine is one of my dogs favorite places to pee, which explains why I used to have columbine there but don't anymore. Sigh.... If perfection is boring then my garden is a very exciting place. :o)

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  27. We may be self- critical but surely in our hearts our gardens are like our children- perfect. We love them so much it is difficult to see their faults, or if we do we overlook them. You must look at that last wonderful photo and think: ' Wow! I created that, how fantastic! Perfect!'
    Naked ping- pong? Do you really?

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    1. I do look at my garden and think, "I did this!". I'm very proud of myself for learning from all my mistakes and persevering. Gardening isn't for wimps! I've never played naked ping pong but might be up for a game. But since I'd be naked I need the gypsies to be so drunk they won't remember in the morning. Every gal has her standards.... ;o)

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  28. Good morning! I was wondering if you would possibly be interested in a guest blogging opportunity with Gardening Know How? If so, please e-mail me for more details at:
    shelley AT gardeningknowhow DOT com

    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

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  29. Ha, I just replied to comment to you on my blog and was mentioning your humor in the face of garden ills and what do I find????? You never cease to amaze me and give a good chuckle.

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    1. Awww! Thanks! At the end of the day, ya gotta find the funny because crying isn't going to do a damn thing.

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  30. Right now I am apologizing for all the weeds in my garden when people drop by....but really I am the only one who cares...the birds, bees and other critters seem to love my weeds.

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  31. too funny + just what I needed to read today:-) I need to be kinder to myself!

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