Aug 18, 2022

See the Beautiful Surprises Awaiting Me In My Neglected Garden

The blog this week will be quite short, I’m afraid.

I contracted COVID-19 (right around my birthday) and I haven’t been working in a couple of weeks.  I’m not recovering as quickly as I want to be.

But it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming about the things I want to accomplish in my Fall & Winter garden!  You know, things I can do when I can actually breathe properly and not feel tired after walking across the house with an empty laundry basket.

You could consider this an update from a previous blog where we explored my garden when it was looking more like it “should” look. 

I’ve been evaluating the use of space in my yard, and making plans to have more food-producing larger plants, like fruit trees, growing.

I have a mulberry that I got from community friend Kenny Gil that somehow escaped its pot and is now a 20′ tree in a place where it shouldn’t be growing.  That’s an opportunity to take cuttings and root more trees to give to friends when I move the root ball to a better location, after the weather cools down a bit.

The giant mulberry tree

The unruly mulberry tree. If you’re asking yourself, “how did that happen in a couple of weeks…I fully confess, my neglect has spanned longer than that…in fact, a whole 2 seasons have passed since I did much with this area of the garden!

I have EarthBOXes to plant, of course, and some in-ground beds to amend and populate.  Those are mostly for food, but I usually find space for marigolds and nasturtiums around the veggies too.

I’ve been working on a perennial & wildflower garden that I need to continue to plan out and execute.  There’s a concrete bird bath waiting on me to install it, and some rose bushes to put into the ground.

Of course, there’s always a ton of plants that need to be potted, or repotted.  Seeds to sow, compost to make, weeds to pull, paths to forge, repairs to complete.

volunteer plants in my EarthBOXes.

(left) A polka-dot Vinca volunteering to be beautiful in one of my unplanted, “fallow”, EarthBOXes. (right) An Okra plant that just appeared in an EarthBOX that is being used as a table for some other potted small shrubs plants of Mexican Heather right now. I haven’t had okra in this box for about 2 years now. Hardy seeds!  

All sounds pretty typical of a gardener in their garden, right? Always something more to do.

The beautiful thing about gardening is that, even when it’s been force-neglected – in that I literally can’t get out there to do very much with it – nature finds a way to provide for my shortcomings.

Some plants don’t make it, and that’s OK.  I’m mean, I’m sad for their loss, but I’m happy that they can be added to the compost for the next generation of plants, and I’m happy to learn that they didn’t do well with my particular brand of “benign neglect”.

scorpion tail plant

Florida Native Scorpion Tail plant. 

But there’s so much other life that happened when I wasn’t looking.  Vincas re-seeding themselves in surprising and fun places.  Salvia popping up in the wildflower garden without me actually planting it. 

My scorpion tail plant is looking GIANT (thanks to community friend Patty Quinby for that little native treasure).  Blue porterweed popping up everywhere and bringing all the butterflies to my yard.

I found my little geranium I planted in a pot outside about 5 years ago and then just ignored it; still popping out red flowers under the shadow of my misplaced mulberry.  Then there’s the occasional out-of-season gardenia and azalea blossom.  

My beautiful Plumerias that I got from Mark Govan giving me quite a show right now, and it makes me smile to think of him, may he rest in peace. 

Never planted one of these gingers before...so nature gave me a gift!

I don’t believe I have any of these ginger plants in my garden, so this is a volunteer from a mystery place.  Isn’t nature amazing?

Truly is it a testament to nature that even when you aren’t there to shape it, curate it, weed or feed it, it’s still there, making the best of what it has to offer, filling our yards and our souls with fun discoveries and surprises around every corner.

And therein lies the reason why I garden.  Yes, of course, for food, for flowers, for personal achievement, and for carrying on the traditions and some legacy from my dwindling family tree in their honor. 

But I also garden for the chaotic randomness of beauty itself.  For the simple moments of observing a butterfly drink from a flower, from a heavy rose bloom nodding in the breeze.  It reminds me of reasons why we work to make a better environment around us, a better community, a better world.

giant bee on blue porterweed

I had a difficult time catching this buzzy bee, he was busy filling his pollen baskets and had no time in his schedule to pose for a picture!

All of that said to now ask you some questions, that you may ponder for yourself:

What is your reason for gardening?

Why do you like it so much?  Is it in honor of memories from the past, or the desire to create new traditions for the future of you and your family?

Is it born out of practicality – like growing your own food in a food-insecure world, or the desire to know where what you put in your body comes from?

Or is it much simpler than those things – like just because being outside with your hands in the Earth gives you a sense of peace, purpose, and joy?

one of Mark Govan's plumerias, doing very well despite my neglect

One of Mark Govan’s plumerias. I can’t even describe the fragrance!  Doing quite well despite my complete neglect of it.

Whatever your raison d’etre, enjoy the journey.  Gardening will take you places you never thought you’d go…even when you are unable to physically do the gardening yourself, your little piece of Nature will be there to uplift and inspire you.

Until next time, Keep Growing!

 

Marissa

 

P.S. Want to have one of your own plumerias from the Govan family?  Check out their tropical plant store here.

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