Everybody's a Critic, Real Gardens

Scary House

It may be spooky, but it's mine

It may be spooky, but it’s mine

Since we don’t know each other very well, I am going to start my association with the venerable Garden Rant with a confession.

My house is the “Scary House”

It wasn’t ALWAYS like that. My garden was gorgeous! It’s been in magazines and books! My garden was in Martha Stewart Living for goodness sake!!!! People used to screech to a halt while driving by, park their cars, and ring my doorbell in the hopes that I might give them an impromptu garden tour.

Yea. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Now, people walk by my garden quickly, with their eyes averted, when before they used to linger and enjoy. They shake their heads, they cluck their tongues. “What happened?” they think – I can HEAR it, even though they aren’t saying it out loud.

“What HAPPENED?” well, frankly… life happened.

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Life can look like it is moving along swimmingly, and then suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under you. You are no longer on top of your game – you are too busy, your support system slips, there isn’t enough time in a day, or you just don’t have the heart. And something has to give.

For me, it was my garden. My guilt and shame looms large – almost as tall and overwhelming as the weeds that have overtaken the corners of my formerly glorious space. But what could I do? It was a rough couple of years, and I just couldn’t keep up with the high bar I had set for myself. Even the lower bar, the “practice” bar, seemed too far a reach. My wonderful outdoor spaces became an unkempt reflection of the state of my life – messy, unpredictable, and out of control. And although most things are coming back into my grasp, my garden still eludes me. As my most important relationship, this garden deserves more than a quick fix, she deserves the kind of care and clarity of purpose I am just now starting to feel capable of. It has been a long, rough road.

So as if I didn’t already feel bad enough, I go online and have to suffer through the chirpy, breezy, “Type-A” status updates and blog posts that are a daily reminder of how far back I have fallen. When do these people STOP? How is it that they always seem to have the time to garden – ALWAYS? And not just regular, garden-variety gardening – these people are engaged in Extreme Acts of Daily Gardening! I swear if I have to wake up to another installment of “Good Morning Gardeners! It’s 6am and I’ve already planted all of my winter crops and I weeded my acre and a half of paradise and espaliered my pear trees – now I am sitting on my patio with a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee (that I grew, roasted, and ground), planning out the rest of my morning. I’m thinking about preserving the last of the tomatoes before I tend to the chickens and milk the goat, and then- off to work!… SO WHAT ARE YOU UP TO???”

I swear I want to grab the nearest hoe and flail around wildly until my weapon finds its target. Unfortunately, since my hoe is rusted and broken somewhere around the side of my house, I will only end up flailing wildly with my fists, and I’ll probably hit myself in the eye during this epic spaz-out.

Sigh. Am I the only one who feels like this? Surely life has gotten in the way for others? Does your garden look like you want it to, always? Is your guilt as great as mine? What with all of the external pressure the internet exerts, how can we NOT feel guilty when we “slip”? I feel like the cheerleader in highschool who let herself go. I mean REALLY let herself GO. The one who goes to the 10 year reunion with an extra 50 lbs and unfashionable hair, and everyone hugs her and tells her how great she looks, but they are really thinking – What HAPPENED?

Life happened. And sometimes the thing you love, the thing that has always inspired you and seen you through, fails you. So what to do? We get ourselves together, brush ourselves off, and when we can, when the universe finally gives us the metaphysical go-ahead – we start to cultivate. And as we cultivate our gardens, we cultivate our hearts. I am planning on healing. I’m open to the journey. And one day, on the other end of this path, if I am sitting on my gorgeously re-designed patio with my steaming mug of homegrown coffee surveying my corner of paradise, sending out a status update that cheerfully details the accomplishments of the morning – I’ll be watching out of the corner of my twinkling eye, waiting for a flailing hoe to hit me upside the head.

Posted by on October 30, 2013 at 1:20 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic, Real Gardens.
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64 Responses to “Scary House”

  1. Jennah says:

    YES! So much yes. Each spring I think this is the year I will get it together and have a wonderful vegetable garden again. But since the spring when I was pregnant and morning sick with my now 2 year old, it’s mostly been “plant vegetables. neglect vegetables. weed if you can.” It makes me sad, but life. Life gets in the way, man.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Word! Life, man… sometimes that is all we can say! Thank GOD arugula re-seeds itself or I wouldn’t have eaten much this past year!

      • Jennah says:

        For the past couple months, every time I’ve gotten excited to finally notice a ripe tomato on the vine, I turn it over and it’s already started to rot or be eaten by a bug. It’s pretty depressing. But where I used to come home and do a few yard chores, now I take the kid and dog for a walk. at least the kid begs for the sunsugar tomatoes straight off the vine, so those get eaten!

  2. Garden Rant Susan Harris says:

    I can relate, although in my case it was the back yard that no one really had to see but ME, but that was enough to make me crazy. So I downsized to a garden I can easily keep up, no matter what – until age gets the best of me, I suppose. But then at least it won’t cost much to pay someone else to do the weeding. No mowing needed.

  3. CindyP says:

    ((((((Ivette))))) For starters, you need a hug.

    Thank you for a post I can truly relate to. My garden almost Never looks like I would like it to, no matter how much I work on it. I see the gardens of other people and feel woefully inadequate. Lets not even talk about the magazine gardens. I have started thinking of those as being in an Alternative Universe, one that I will never live in.

    Real Gardening is a labor of love. No matter how much you love it, you need to have the labor too. And vice versa of course. I can’t imagine putting forth this much effort for fresh tomatoes if I didn’t love it in the first place. My garden may not meet the standards of some, but it makes me happy while I’m in it, and even when I’m not in it. That’s what matters.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Thanks for the hug Cindy! That felt good!!!
      You are SO insightful! Yes yes yes – a labor of love NEEDS the labor! These moments are important for new ideas and new spurts of growth – I’m glad to be able to embrace it instead of railing against it and just feeling disappointed in myself.
      No more of THAT!

  4. Lisa-St. Marys ON says:

    Ha! I had life hit me in the butt a number years ago. My (now ex) husband messed around, and then left me with everything to deal with, 1/2 acre lot to mow, two little girls, a huge house to keep pristine in case of a real estate showing. Something had to give, and it was my enormous garden. It was heartwrenching to say the least. Then when the new owners moved in they had a dumpster out front to put half my (some rare) plants into. Oh the horror. I could only manage to bring some of my favourites with me. I should have brought more.

    Life goes on, and the garden will be there when you are ready. Just tackle little corners at a time, it will be really rewarding when you do. It won’t be as bad as you think.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Life just SUCKS sometimes doesn’t it Lisa? You are right, though – the garden will be here (even in a much neglected state!). But sometimes when I’m outside I can almost hear it mocking me! That’s when I have to take a deep breath and know that when I’m ready, this new version of the garden (and this new version of ME) will be awesome!

  5. Michael Romero says:

    I love this! Life gets you in it’s whirl and its hard to paddle out of it. Great writing. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Teri says:

    I am so glad I’m not the only one… the yard just got away from me this year while life ran interference. But I will recover this winter and hopefully get it sorted next year!

  7. The “spooky house” in our neighborhood had discarded appliances in the front yard (not visible from the street or anywhere else), so you’re ahead of the curve on that one (I hope).

    If you lived in a colder climate you’d have winter to help equalize things (every yard looks ugly on a wet, cold, winter day, right?) then the prospect of Spring as a built-in motivator. :)

  8. Helen Weis says:

    Love this post, Ivette. As a designer, I find it to be very true of myself and it is immensely refreshing to hear another designer speak of it. You are right, life happens and sometimes the thing we love the most, or the thing that brings us the best ways to handle our stress is the one thing that goes by the wayside. Thus making the guilt and the stress all the more fun. Ironic isn’t it…. lol! Here is to cultivating, in and out of the garden. Still, I’d watch out for the flying hoe! XO

  9. Susan says:

    Ivette, be of good cheer. We ALL feel this way. My garden looks like my ideal once or twice a year. Once at about the end of May, and possibly twice if I’m on a garden tour. The rest of the season it’s to hell in a handbasket, merrily, merrily. My feeling is, if they can’t take a joke, f*** ‘em!

  10. Laura Bell says:

    Oh. My. GOSH.

    I only got halfway through your rant before I realized we must be sisters. Cousins? Best friends who’ve never actually met? If we could be neighbors, then there would at least be two scary houses on the block!

    Yes, LIFE gets in the way. Between the job, the commute to said job, the kids & their activities (I thought they got less needy as they grew. No? Gah!!), the hubby (who decided we needed to “invest” in a 15-unit fixer-upper rental property), the house … Much as I love autumn & winter, I am already crying knowing that soon my garden will have to settle for weekend visitations from me. Leave the house before dawn, return well after dusk – is it any wonder I leave the Christmas lights up so long? Sometimes it’s the only way to see some of my plants!

    And going into this cool season, this season with precious few outside hours, I’m already facing half-dead, diseased-looking plants, random weeds outpacing the growth of anything I want growing (and no freeze to kill ‘em off), unfinished hardscape, irrigation nightmares. My front yard orchard, such as it is, is the stuff of horror movies – you know the ones where the heroine runs shrieking through the trees while branches snag & shred her clothes? Except I don’t look nearly so good doing the same. This, in a neighborhood where almost every house/yard combo is neatly manicured, trimmed, & maintained. Neighbors walk by & whisper, “Yes, children. A gardener lives there. Behave, or she’ll plant you beneath her roses.” Nonsense. I can’t even find the rose for the photinia that overtook it.

  11. It’s so good to read you again Ivette, I hadn’t realized how much I missed your voice! I do wish this rant had appeared a little earlier in the month though, I think a “flying hoe” would be an excellent Halloween costume, if I just had a little more time.

  12. Elsa says:

    Totally can relate to this one. For me, life got in the way. Also, the combination of a new storm water pond putting my yard squarely in the flood plain and random neighborhood animals finding my yard irresistible for use as a litter box have taken any joy or therapeutic value out of my gardening exploits.

    I’m still holding out hope for next season, but having the “river wild” wash all the compost you just put on your shade beds into the neighbor’s back yard would deflate even the most stalwart gardeners…. time for more raised beds!

  13. anne says:

    Over the years, I’ve developed only 1 “must” for my gardening: I must plant at least 1 tomato plant. And trust me, I have had a couple of years in the last few decades where that is ALL that got planted or tended in my yard! Amidst the weeds! But, I had tomatoes that year! All else could be forgiven!

    The inverse of this is that there have also only been a couple of years where (for only a few weeks maybe) my garden was lovely. Not perfect, but pleasing to look at and be in (to me, anyway).

    A garden that was perfect would be boring, and besides, what would be the point? Nothing to do in there!

  14. Oh, Ivette, as you know, this happened to me last year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d just moved in with my Hunky Man and had all these plans for our acre lot, then BAM!! Now, we’re getting things into shape, but for awhile I would irritate my fiance by humming the theme to “Sanford & Son” or singing “In the Ghetto” in my best South Park/Eric Cartman voice whenever we’d venture outside. I had to remind myself that my garden is not my bitch, it’s there for my enjoyment, so I had to lose the guilt. I still feel a bit embarrassed that this landscape designer doesn’t have a kick ass garden, but there you go. Here’s to hoping YOU are feeling better about your life these days…..the garden will follow in due time. XOXO Jenny

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      It is hard for me to respond to you, Jenny – your light shines so bright and it makes my heart break to know that you struggled with the beast. I’m so happy you have Brett, he is so wonderful… and that he has you, because you are the moon and the stars! (I’ve been gorging on Game of Thrones, can you tell?). I always thought my garden would be a source of solace in hard times, and I was so surprised that it wasn’t. But I won’t give up on it! She will be my bitch again, instead of my monster!
      So much love to you

  15. Mary Gray says:

    Yup! I think that beautiful home and garden magazines are to us middle aged women what Cosmo and Glamour are to young women: we love to look at them but they tend to inspire mostly guilt and anxiety. I am at peace with my yard; it is my house i feel guilty about. If I see another gorgeous kitchen renovation with a Farmhouse sink and Stainless steel appliances, with a mom feeding her kids cookies at the giant island, I am going to go loco.

  16. Carol says:

    Whoa there, Ivette. Let’s not take up innocent hoes and use them as weapons, or this will never work out for me. I collect and admire these simple instruments of gardening! Now, get that rusty hoe and clean it up and put it away properly and then we can compare our out of control gardens. Bet I have more thistle weeds than you do and thank goodness for the privacy fence around my back yard. What goes on back there is for me to know and the neighbors to ignore, including all the weeds.

  17. Andrea says:

    Oh, Ivette. I feel for you, lovely. It’s been a shit year for me, too. One where everything has fallen apart. But doesn’t it seem like sometimes everything needs to fall apart before we can put it together again?

    I hate that my garden – once a source of joy and peace – became just another nagging task. That’s a lot to do with why I haven’t been blogging: I hated that I felt like I couldn’t go into the garden without my camera, or without an eye for a blog post. It took the joy out of it for me.

    I think you and I are similar in that we set those impossibly high bars for ourselves. They’re hard to reach, but they kept us striving, aiming to do better. Until that just got too exhausting.

    Let’s just take a break, shall we? And GIVE ourselves a break. We can’t do it all. Something’s got to give. And better a garden than a marriage or your sanity. Be gentle with yourself.

    Love you.
    xo
    a

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Andrea my sweet WHY has this year been such CRAP? I hope you are finding your way through – I am starting to see the light. Hopefully it wasn’t just a firefly in the distance!
      I’m with you – a break. And to giving ourselves a break! There is always more once we feel we are ready for it!
      Adoring X’s and O’s!!!

  18. Gretchen says:

    Ivette, this is a wonderful post! Any and all of us ‘serious’ gardeners have all felt the same and it is liberating to admit to it. You’re right, life happens and you do your best and move on the best you can. Gardens continue to grow, weeds will always need pulling and those perennials that you lovingly planted will continue to bloom without your help for awhile. Gardens should also provide some solace and a place for quiet relaxation long after the work is done. I think you put it best:
    “And as we cultivate our gardens, we cultivate our hearts.” So lovely.

  19. Pamela says:

    I used to love to tend our yard. I even started out blogging about gardening. And then my mother-in-law died, my elderly mother moved here, we decided to homeschool our kid, a drought hit, and I fell ill with an autoimmune disease.

    So, my yard is a mess. I mean a MESS.

    Life happens. Life is messy.

    I don’t sweat it.

  20. Lynn says:

    Ahhhh. Yes. And inside the house, too! Gardening in the country and my little blog were so much fun. A move, a baby, a dog who hates the city more than I do (both of us feeling prickly about another walk on pavement flanked by Keep Off the Grass signs) changed a lot. A year and still I can’t get a postage-stamp-sized yard together. It’ll come, it’ll come back. What’s that they say about cycles? I’m happy to read your voice here. It’s a generous one!

  21. BooksInGarden says:

    Perfect post. I love you unreservedly! Oh I can relate.

    I am happiest when pootling along in my garden working on some part in a way that will make me happier without terrorizing myself with thoughts of how the whole should look. I have to remind myself that gardening is a process, a moving meditation.

    When a plant or section becomes a demanding prima donna it is given the heave-ho and an old friend or new plant friend is invited in its stead

    I also recall that letting native plants including weeds have part of the garden contributes to wildlife habitat and conservation landscaping. Excuses? Yes – but true too, by knowing a little about the native plants/weeds, I can ignore those while concentrating my efforts on the invasive thugs.

  22. Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

    Lovely readers, I am SO moved by your comments. I’m so full of emotion I can’t tell you! Thank you so much for re-affirming that this happens to us all and we can all use a step away sometimes. I am so incredibly lucky having the most marvelous blogfriends, and this wonderful new forum. I feel hugged and held and accepted! MUCH LOVE!!!

  23. Carol says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I will keep it forever to inspire me in the future. Boy, have I ever been where you are. I wish you the best and hope you soon can feel the gardening passion and joy again.

  24. Alice says:

    Years ago a friend’s garden was featured in a magazine. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely garden that she personally tended to but it seems magazines want things perfect. They went so far as to buy hot house flowers and taped them to the stems of her shrubs to fill in bare spots and hundreds of pots of bulbs from a nursery were planted for the shoot. An antique bench was even brought in from a local dealer to enhance a vignette. I look at all magazine pictures now with a jaded eye.

    Relax and have that cup of coffee now, just loving your garden, weeds and all, is what counts.

  25. Sandra Knauf says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you for keeping it real on gardening and life! This year has been very tough for a lot of us, especially psychologically, don’t you think? Or maybe it’s been the whole last decade? (I’m writing from Colorado, land of floods and fire and, for me, youngest child off to college this fall.)

    Right now I have a truckload of manure sitting in various piles throughout the back garden (been there for a month), some new wooden raised beds frames scattered around (been finished for a week and counting), weeds and decomposing vegetable greenery everywhere. Oh yeah, and random bowls and cups of seeds that I intend to package for the seed library sitting around the house. There will be no hopeful bulb planting THIS autumn. But, hey, it’s okay! Life is a process. Projects will get done when life allows. Other projects take precedence. Sending love to all the other harried gardeners . . . it will all look better in April, I promise.

  26. Yea. Like she said.

  27. I loved this post! We are the Scary House of our neighborhood. Tonight is the Only night that will make us popular. Halloween is Hell for me. One year I ended up giving out Viactiv wrapped vitamins- at least they were chocolat! Last year
    Post-Sandy, it was books.

    I am sorry you feel guilt about your garden though. I wear the Scary moniker with pride. My husband talked me out of using a toilet as a planter in the front yard.

    Our yard went from perfectly maintained -plastic almost. To frilly as life declined. My health went. The kids needed braces, cars, college. We slid down the socio-economic scale and before I knew it, our neighborhood had gentrified.

    I have adapted, ever so slowly. I try to use native plants that need less coddling.
    I am slowly renovating the front yard, But, the English ivy was holding up the front porch, so I have had to stop til we can prepare that.

    There is a gift in all of this somewhere. A tiny perfect plant pony. And I will find it, or die trying.

    I wish you the best and happy backyarding! :)

  28. Allen Bush says:

    Ivette, I love your scary house and garden. We’re the scary city of Louisville today and tonight. Strong winds and rain will likely put a damper on the neighborhood ninja warriors. The storms will knock the remaining leaves off the trees and, hopefully. The kids will not be denied their annual right to sacks full of candy. We expect them Friday night.

  29. Pat says:

    We’re all victims of “plant porn” pictures in the magazines. We hold ourselves to standards that just can’t be met without a full time staff . The best part of gardening is that plants are forgiving. Perennials will hang tough and still be there when we get back to weeding. Skipping the 25 tomato plants one year won’t kill us. As I get older, the best thing I’ve done for myself is to lower my standards and give my self permission to occasionally take a day, week, season off.
    My grandmother use to say “dust keeps: in defense of less than enthusiastic housekeeping. So does the soil. It will be there next year when you have the energy to come back to it.

  30. Lorene says:

    Dear Ivette,
    so many have already said it so well. I can’t count the number of time my garden and I have broken up – “it’s not you, it’s me… OK it’s totally you with your constant litany of demands, chores, and heavy lifting. spreading shit – chasing pests – battling weeds… the list goes on and on” Lucky for me there’s always been that day when the light shifts, the strawberries (or fava beans) ripen, and the beauty of the messy, demanding space overwhelms my reservations and aches and pains. I want this for you… hell, I want this for everyone on this planet. What I don’t want is the pressure and pretend levels of accomplishment all around us. I’m a girl who love, love, loves a gorgeous garden… but at home, quietly, steadily (ok – sometimes not so steadily) I embrace the garden as a process… always doing, simply being, and never done.
    xox

  31. Sally in SC says:

    Oh fear not! Just get yourself a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” sign like I did! When my son was badly injured in Afghanistan I spent 6 months at his bedside in Texas during the drought of 2010. It was the best thing that ever happened to my garden as all the wimpy water needers turned to dust and I was left with plants that thrive on neglect and reseed themselves no matter what I have planned for them. Then I joined the Master Naturalists and discovered this is what a garden is supposed to look like anyway. HA! Now if I can only find a “Certified Spider Habitat” sign for the house…

    • anne says:

      I have a framed, hand-calligraphed copy of this poem by the poet Kobayashi Issa hanging in the entryway to my house, feel free to hang it in yours:

      Don’t worry, spiders
      I keep house
      casually

  32. Heather says:

    Amen, sister. I will never, ever have a perfect yard. Sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day, week, month for everything. Sometimes you have to take baby steps with your heart and just sit on the front porch with a cuppa and ignore the weeds. Thank God I’m most passionate about trees. They are very forgiving and seem (for the most part) to thrive on neglect. I get occasional snarky comments from my mother, but heck, I think creeping Charlie is pretty.

  33. Tyler C says:

    This is why you are needed on Garden Rant!!! Honest, human perspectives on a topic that is plagued by bossy, overachieving perfectionists. We’ve all been where you are – gardening should be therapeutic, not stress-inducing. GREAT POST.

  34. Of Gardens says:

    Stop reading other blogs if they upset you.

  35. BONNIE G. says:

    WELL–IF U HAD A YES BUTTON–SO MANY GREAT RESPONSES! SALLY–HEEHEE RE THE SPIDERS-THE MITES KILLED A FEW PLANTS ONE YEAR & I GOT SOME SERIOUS BITES! THEN, THERE’S THE MILDEW & THE CHICK WEEK! DENISE–WHO SAYS U HAVE TO DO THE 31ST?? LEAVE OFF THE LIGHTS & PUT UP SIGNS–I’VE DONE THAT FOR YEARS. PAMELA, I TOO HAVE AN A.I. ILLNESS–CFS/ME. I HAD NEVER BEEN A GARDENER UNTIL I REMARRIED 6 YRS AGO & WE BOT A HOUSE WITH A HUGE YARD–ALL VISIBLE TO THE PUBLIC GOING BY! HE WAS THRILLED TO HAVE THIS YARD–PUT IN A VEG GARDEN PATCH & THEN HAD TO WORK TO HELP US KEEP IT! AT 63, I BECAME INSPIRED TO PLANT FLOWER GARDENS; 4 ADDITIONS LATER, PLUS 2 THAT WERE HERE, I’M BEGINNING TO FEEL OVERWHELMED! CFS DEPLETES ALL YOUR ENERGY & AT 68, I HAVE 2 HIPS & KNEES THAT DON’T CO-OPERATE–SO I CAN’T GET DOWN ON MY KNEES–I’D NEVER GET BACK UP, I CAN’T SQUAT & BENDING OVER FOR VERY LONG MEANS PAIN! I’VE EVEN FALLEN HEADLONG ONTO A ROCK DUE TO BALANCE PROBLEMS!!! BUT, BOY, DO I LOVE MY FLOWERS! WE GET MANY COMMENTS ON OUR ”BEAUTIFUL” YARD & WHEN FRIENDS SEE PHOTOS ON FB, THEY SAY, ”SO MUCH HARD WORK” & I LAUGH! BECAUSE I CAN’T DO MUCH–I PLANT & WATCH THE BLOOMS! HOPEFULLY THEY GET WATER & SOME WEEDING–A LITTLE AT A TIME ON DAYS I’M ABLE, WHICH IS NOT MANY. YOU SEE, ”WE” SEE THE IMPERFECTIONS–OTHERS SEE THE WHOLE. MUCH LIKE THEY SAY MEN VIEW US! EVERY SPRING I GET MORE PLANTS–GRADUALLY FILLING IN WITH PERRENIALS–USUALLY WAY MORE THAN I CAN AFFORD & THERE’S SO MUCH I WANT TO DO & CAN’T. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO START–ALL THOSE YEARS I COULD HAVE. I HAD NO IDEA HOW MUCH I’D LOVE IT!! WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH LONGER WE’LL BE ABLE TO MANAGE, BUT WE WANT TO KEEP ALL OUR TREES, ROSES & FLOWERS AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!! OH, & TOMATOES! IVETTE–THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME SEE THAT THERE ARE SO MANY OF US WHO STRUGGLE, BUT AT LEAST WE DO TRY. WE HAVE GARDENS THAT OTHERS ENJOY & ENVY, JUST LIKE YOURS!! ONLY WE SEE THE WORK THAT NEEDS DOING. THIS YEAR I DID MORE SITTING & SEEING WHAT OTHERS SEE–LOVELY GARDENS–EVEN FROM A NOVICE LIKE ME!

  36. BONNIE G. says:

    OOPS–I MEANT ”CHICK WEED”! APOLOGIES FOR THE ALL CAPS–THAT’S JUST WHAT I DO FROM MY BED WITH ONE FINGER–I’M ALSO A NOVICE TYPER. LOL.

  37. I’m always skeptical of blogs that say “I did X and Y in Z amount of time” [unless there is proof, i.e. step-by-step pics] because all too often in blogland, what it means is “I had the idea to do X and Y and coordinated enough manpower to get it done in Z amount but really, only the part you see in the pic and somebody else took over running the rest of my life while this was going on”. Specific to gardening, my dad was really into it for a few years, but you know what? he spent 8 hrs/day in the yard; my mom and I helped on eve/weekends, we hired out a lot of the work (mowing, seasonal maintenance). I remember Dad getting all the credit, so yeah, support systems – very very important.

  38. Emur says:

    The scariest home that is not too far from mine is a convent, that’s occupied by five nuns. Now, what could be scarier than that!

  39. ivette – as you know, i love your garden, 1/2 dead or alive! the withered bits and overgrown greens tells the story of someone who took the time to take chances and went big! i think we all worry too much about how to “keep our bushes trim” – i say let things go wild a bit. be natural. this blog world leans far too heavy on the perfect anyway.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      My darling girl – your love of the dried bits and embracing of all of the beauty our landscape has to offer is so inspiring to me. You are a guide to me! Love you Bianca!!!

  40. Ivette, it must be especially hard for a designer/artist, a person who is attuned to aesthetics, to watch a garden that you have created decline.

    I have experienced the wilting of a garden too. I recently left my garden after years of being surrounded by development. I had given up on it several years ago because the bulldozers made it too hard to spend time outside, but as I shoved my way into it past all the new brambles (to gather up some favorite rocks to haul across the country to my new garden), I could sense that it was still alive in there, still ready to respond to some attention, and still offering pinpoints of beauty and solace if I should choose to linger.

    I hope you are finding bright spots in yours.

    • Ivette Soler Ivette Soler says:

      Evelyn, now that I am starting to feel strong enough to look, I can see that there is a strong throughline I built into this garden that is still there – waiting for me! This time, I am going to go slowly. I’m going to enter into a dialog with my garden, rather than imposing my design ideal. I want to see what my garden, what my life, wants and needs. We’ll see how it goes! It’s a journey, isn’t it? XO

  41. Chris says:

    Well the year before last my garden was beautiful. I was gardening when my husband called 911 for our son, and I got out of my grubbies to ride in the ambulance to the hospital.

    That trip meant more appointments, and surgery… and then cardiac rehab for the young man. During all that time I did weed therapy, prune therapy and just plain ol’ staring at the flowers therapy. My garden was where I could plug into the mp3 player and manage one part of my life. It was weeded, pruned, watered and lovely.

    This year has been much better, and things are mostly back to normal, including the bags of compost that I am supposed to be putting on the beds (I keep trying to kill lawn with them, but my hubby moves them off the grass!). The garden is still there, and this year I did manage to finish a project to reduce the maintenance. But I am definitely thinking of reducing more of the workload, and we are going to be downsizing soon as other kids go off to college and beyond. I will always have a garden, but it will be much smaller.

    By the way, dear hubby and I walked around the neighborhood thinking about what kind of house we want to move into. One high end part we walked through was full of incredibly manicured and very boring landscaping. Essentially just lawn and squared off shrubs with a small tree, if anything. What is worse is that they take lots of maintenance (by paid professionals) to achieve that excruciating level of blah.

    Give me a messy yard that is interesting any day instead of manicured boredom.

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  43. Have you barb-wired the perimeter and started keeping pigs in the front yard? Then you are still fine.
    p.s. I didn’t think of this – it really happened.

  44. [...] The Garden Rant: Scary House [...]

  45. Felicia says:

    I’ve missed you Ivette and look forward to your gardening return :)

  46. Joe Lamp'l says:

    I agree with it all. Love, love, love every thing you write, especially this post! So glad I have another opportunity to find you here Ivette. You are one of a kind, in the best way possible.

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