Why is your garden such a mess? You call yourself a garden writer?
The above questions are on everyone’s lips, including
- professional photographers trying to shoot my garden for magazines
- the mail carrier who can’t stick mail in my basket without being velcroed by a ‘Russelliana’ cane
- my neighbors, who oscillate between horror and pity when they climb the front steps
- my husband, who is upset that he has to park in six inches of as yet unmoved compost
- Sean next door, who is actually too polite to raise the issue, but has been living with my half of a 10 yard load of wood chips in his parking spot all summer.
And we did have some good moments here this year, namely the best tulip spring ever, thanks to Elizabeth’s suggestion that I try some species tulips. I wound up with the same three colors–purple, yellow, and orange–in an outrageously artful and piquant range of shapes. Oh, and it was all extra-amazing, because it happened at the same time as the wild white violas were blooming like sprinkles on a colorful cake or sequins on a colorful dress.
The roses were nice, too, back in June when someone restrained them.
- The media business struggled. My dream job–gardening columnist for a major newspaper–no longer exists, killed off, ironically, by the likes of this blog and many others. Maybe it’s possible to make a living as a garden writer after you’ve written 8 books, but on a single book? Impossible. So newbie garden writers have to keep the day job, unless they marry rich or are born rich. Nope and nope.
- The economy is horrible. But, after a dry spell, I’ve had a flood of writing work since May, and it would be insanity to turn it down.
- Sometimes garden writers have kids with demanding schedules.
- No funds for help. Of course, help is not really my thing. I love using a shovel and wheelbarrow. Let’s get back to no time.
- Lack of inspiration. I made my vegetable garden in the city this year, and let my beautiful country garden become a mess of weeds. Some people are city people. I am just not. The things that make me happy are the sound of peepers, the motion of dragon flies, fireflies when a hillside is full of them, and meadows pulsing with insect life and goldrenrod in late summer. None of these things can be found in 7500 square feet of theoretically civilized yard.
- Henry the dog. He’s a country character, just like me, and needs to run off the leash every day. So we run. He’s undoubtedly prolonging my life, but shortening my gardening time.
The other big question on everyone’s lips is, why am I not more ashamed?
- I’ve been gardening for a long, long time. There are bad years in the garden, and there are spectacular years, just as there are in life. Next year, I am convinced, will be a better year.