NOTE: Pictures have been added!
Every spring and fall, I spend every spare moment in the garden, composting, rearranging plants, finding spots for seedlings, weeding, etc. My methodical mental planning of where I want all the plants to go borders on the absurd, since I always change my mind mid-dig. Every spring and fall I stand back and survey my domain, smug in my satisfaction that this year my garden will achieve a sense of perfection and splendor found only in novels and movies. I sigh, deep and happily, knowing that all my hard work will pay off. Cloaked in fabulosity, my garden slides sweetly into night, and I sleep in bliss.
Fast forward to mid-July: It's brutally hot, hasn't rained in weeks, the rain barrels are empty, and my garden is crispy to the touch. I move slowly through the yard in fear of creating so much friction I spontaneaously combust and burn down the whole damn thing. I turn on the hose to saturate the brittle soil and the folks at the city water co. smile in delight.
Every summer, I water, pinch, weed, deadhead and water some more. But that's all. I do not believe in micromanaging Mother Nature and I let my garden drift into barely controlled chaos. The plants tumble into each other and either thrive or die. I wander the garden and take mental notes of who's happy and who's not. I am a tough love gardener and plants that are quite determined to die, despite my care, are yanked unceremoniously from the soil. In the past year I've created a new category of Plants That Don't Contribute to supplement the two most popular, Dead and Alive. Plants That Don't Contribue are the equivalent of botanical placeholders. They're green and alive but don't attract wildlife, or are green and barely alive and have begun to irritate me. Placement in the last category is a guaranteed one-way ticket out of my garden.
'Chocolate' eupatorium was first given to me as a seedling from a friend. I never dead head it to make sure I always have seedlings to pass on. Here it grows next to a 'Purple Dome' aster.
That's where Terri comes in. Why garden in just one yard when you can vicariously garden in two? Astilbe, japanese anemones I can never keep watered enough, and ibiris growing in too much shade, an extra 'Blue Fortune' agastache to ensure a summer of butterflies, coreopsis, eupatorium 'Chocolate' and obediant plant seedlings that have come together, organized and threatened to take over the garden are all headed to her house. She's thrilled and dreaming of a garden. I'm thrilled to be helping her with one.
About two years ago I planted perennial snapdragons on the premise that they would attract buckeye butterfly caterpillars. Last summer the plants grew thick and strong but I never saw any caterpillars or even buckeye butterflies.