Gardening is Like Life

Sometimes gardening it too much like life to suit me. Come to think of it, gardening isn’t “like” life, it is life. All those plants and other living creatures go through the same sort of life cycles we do, with ups and downs, growth and stagnation, illness and death. They might not have to deal with the angst of their traumas, but we — in this case “I” — suffer the angst for them.

This has been a particularly confusing time for me garden-wise. The sun desiccates plants so quickly, that what was thriving yesterday, is all but dead today. I’m glad I took a photo of these petunias yesterday because today, not only are the flowers gone, but the plants themselves look as if they might not make it through another drastic heat wave.

The same thing happened to the zinnias, though I don’t know why. They generally like this climate and this area especially — at one time, 92% of all zinnia seeds were grown in this valley not far from here. Luckily, only the flowers desiccated. The plants themselves seem strong enough to produce more blossoms.

The grass especially confuses me. The large area of the lawn that had turned brown about a month ago was doing well until last night, and now it’s even worse than it was the first “brown” time. As if that weren’t bad enough, I’ve been infested with slime mold in a different area of the lawn. How the heck does such a dry climate even have slime mold spores? And how can a certain area be moist enough for the slime mold to take hold when the area all around it is gasping for a drink? (A while back, a cat with diarrhea left its offering in that very spot, so all I can think of is that it somehow ingested the spores and was generous enough to share.) Even though I clean up the slime mold every morning and sprinkle the grass with baking soda, it grows again overnight in a different spot.

And no, I didn’t take a picture of the white blob. I wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible; I certainly didn’t want to memorialize the creature. (I suppose it’s a creature, though it’s not an animal, a fungus, or a plant but an amoeba. A smart amoeba. Supposedly these plasmodium can solve problems even though they don’t have a brain. Sheesh. As if the life of a garden — and gardener — wasn’t horror enough.)

Another issue I encountered was with a hen and chick plant that flowered. This rooster, as the blooming rosette is called, came right on time. (They flower about every three years.) One gardener told me the flowering stage was the end of the cycle and to pull up the whole rosette so the “chicks” could grow. After I did that, I found out the flowers produce seed, so I could have left it until the rosette died on its own. See? Too much like life. Either way, the chicks will soon become hens. And that, too, is life.

Although I have enjoyed the wildflowers, I’m not sure if I’ll buy more seeds to plant next year. (I still have some left over, so I can change my mind about planting them at the last minute.) The blooms are staggered, so there’s not a lot of color at any one time, and the mass of plants mask weed and weedy grass growth. I’ll need to completely clear out some of the wildflower areas since that will be the only way to get rid of the weeds, but it won’t be a problem since most of the flowers were annuals anyway. The flowers that went to seed won’t be affected — the seeds should still grow.

One thing that does so very well here is the magnus echinacea no matter how the weather or the gardener treats it. I’m considering getting a lot more of those plants for problem areas.

And that, too, is like life — when one thing comes to an end, you do your best to find something else to start.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

I Dig Digging

Lots more digging today! I did my morning stint after I came home from the mechanic’s shop without any work being done on my car. (The shop was closed, so I hope he’s not having another setback.)

I can’t do much digging at a time, only a strip of one or two feet by eight feet because the soil is compacted clay held together by the dense roots of Bermuda grass. To be honest, I don’t care how little I do. I’m just delighted to be able to do any physical work at my age. Apparently, I am considered elderly, which isn’t as bad as being called an old woman. I mean I am one, but still, it’s demoralizing to be defined in such a way. In my world, I’ve never been this age before, so it’s new to me. In fact, this is the youngest I will ever be, and besides, I still have the whole rest of my life ahead of me. Does that sound old-womanish? No, I didn’t think so.

But I digress.

After I did my morning dig, I relaxed a bit, so when the mail came with a package of plants that needed to be put to bed, I was raring to go. Luckily, it’s a lovely day with a cool breeze, so it didn’t matter that I was out working just after noon. (Last week, the afternoons were hot enough to give me heatstroke if I did anything outside.)

The plants are magnus echinacea. I ordered one plant a year ago, and it seems to be doing well, so I thought I’d try a few more. They are in their new home now. Since they don’t like to be transplanted, I hope they like where I put them.

One other gardening project I did today was start a notebook at the suggestion of one of my gardening readers. I got an empty binder, which I will fill with the planting guides that come with my purchases, descriptions of the plants, location in my yard, and whatever else I need to keep track of. The yard is a good size, but it’s not so big that I couldn’t keep track of all my plantings, but there is that elderly thing, so who knows when the memory will go. Having a ready guide to my various gardens should make up for any forgetfulness.

I’m glad I didn’t get a house with a yard that was already landscaped. I think it would have been too much for me to keep up at the beginning — it was complicated enough getting to know the care and feeding of a house without dealing with someone else’s idea of what a yard should be. This way, I get to figure it out as I go along. And if I eventually decide it’s too much and let it go, well, it will only be myself I’m letting down and not some master gardener.

Tomorrow will be another cool day before we hit the nineties again, so more digging is in my forecast.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times