Garden progress

My mother’s garden is beautiful – a layered work of art. My mémère’s garden had a spectacular assortment of roses and lilacs, perfectly pruned. My avo’s garden is full of robust vegetables, and blooms that smell like her islands. They all putter in big hats.

Yet, their skill continues to elude me – like their cooking genes. I’ve got a black thumb and it sucks. BUT, like Charlie Brown with his football, I keep trying anyway. And lately, I’ve actually made some progress.

  1. I put a lot of tasty plants in pots. They help me with mojitos, pizza and salad.
Herby pots

Herby pots. Mmmmmm.

2. With help from Helena, Fina, Andy and Owen, I added a new garden bed. Don’t ask me to identify plants.

Plants donated by my mother and my aunt, plus the lilac bush JF bought me to honour mémère

Plants donated by my family, plus the lilac bush JF bought me to honour mémère

3. I expanded my herb garden. Problem is, I already had all the “normal” herbs. So if you ever need sweet woodruff or russian sage give me a call.

Herb garden

Plus some ferns and a bush from Heather and Jerry that I can’t seem to identify. Anyone know what it is?

4. We have beautiful old trees and little sunlight. That means a lot of hostas.

I've added some trumpet vines and bee balm to this garden bed

I’ve added some trumpet vines and bee balm to the hostas

5. I added forsythia and creeping jenny to this garden bed. David is looking solemn and beautiful as ever.

David, peeking through the lilies and hostas.

David, peeking through the lilies and hostas

6. I created a shade garden last year. No flower will ever bloom in this dark corner, but it’s starting to look green and happy.

Hostas, hostas all around

Hostas, hostas all around

7. This is my hopeless cause. The hostas, ferns and hydrangeas are filling in nicely. So is this creeping evil plant that is temporarily pretty but then just swallows up everything else.

So, so, so full of weeds, punctuated by hostas

So, so, so full of weeds, punctuated by hostas

There are tons of other problem spots (a weedy stone path, those damn dandelions, illogical decks) but I feel like I’ve made some progress. I’m celebrating the small wins.

It’s not my mom’s garden, but it’s something.

Black thumb

Our backyard, 85% snow free!

Our backyard, 85% snow free!

The trees in our front yard are covered in little nubblies that will soon explode into big chlorophyll-sucking leaves. Two crocuses are getting ready to show their shy little faces in the back yard. Tiny little green blades of grass are trying to poke their way through our mangled brown “lawn.”

I am delighted to watch litres of liquefied snow trickle down Elmvale’s street grates. I really am.

Front yard, 80% snowplough sand!

Front yard, 80% snowplough sand!

But I must admit to being utterly terrified by what is being exposed to the world. And by the world, I mean my neighbours.

Why? Because I have the opposite of a green thumb. My thumbs are both black as the squirrels that keep eating our birdseed and suet.

About a month ago, a dear friend gave me a little self-sustaining plant. It only needed water every few weeks. Here is what it looks like today:

I'm sorry, Cynthia. I tried!

I’m sorry, Cynthia. I tried!

All of that said, I think most gardeners would be frightened at the prospect of rescuing our yard. Its list of challenges is truly epic. Here are my top 10:

  • no fence = no dog
  • uneven, lumpy ground throughout
  • weeds and mud instead of lawn
  • no defined garden beds the back yard
  • random weeds everywhere
  • patchy mulching in the front garden
  • sad, brown bushes that need trimming
  • hostas that need splitting
  • decks that need replacing
  • broken paving stones

Basically, I need one of those HGTV shows that will take two days to raze what’s there, then magically replace it all with a lush, low maintenance retreat.

I’ve taken to what I call aspirational gardening. I stand on our back deck, close my eyes, and imagine everything my yard could be. It’s really pretty in my head! Then I go into the house before opening my eyes so that I don’t slapped in the face by reality.

While I’ve got your attention, any great gardeners out there? Can you help me puzzle through the following basic gardening problems?

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At least I have David, JF, and Elmvale Bakery doughnuts.