May 27, 2010

Attitude Platitudes

Well, there it was.  I had posted a couple of days ago that an attitude adjustment was in the forecast, though I hadn't formally penciled it in on my calendar.  Attitude adjustments, unlike dental appointments and paying your AT&T Uverse bill, don't lend themselves to dates and times, but do need to be circumscribed by time in some way, at least for me.  I'm still trying to decide if an appropriate mourning period has past for all of the love's labor lost in the recent hail storm.  My hairy-legged men certainly think so.  They are tired of all of the moaning and wailing over the destruction of that damn hail and are ready for me to return to my typical sunshine and rainbow self (oh, YEAH, I can hear them saying), and

....start going to the grocery store and cooking again.  All things do come down to food after all. In my defense, however, three of our cars were totaled after the storm, and chores like grocery shopping are not as easily accomplished when sharing one car with one's two teenage sons.  (In the interest of full disclosure, under the best of weather circumstances, I hate to go grocery shopping.  Cooking I enjoy, pushing a cart around in a frigid mega-store, not so much.)

Now, where was I?  Oh, attitude adjustment.  In kind of a hazy way, I penciled it in loosely, sometime towards the end of this week.  It was wedged in between don't think about it too much referring, of course to this blog, and it's okay to look stupid and make a lot of mistakes in front of people,  again referring to this blog.  I guess that means that by next Monday, Memorial Day, I will need to put my big girl panties on (as my Li'l Sis would say) and get down in a serious way to restoring and recapturing the beauty of my garden.  Or its potential for this year anyway.  If you are an obsessed gardener, what other choice is there, really?

So I will heed the admonishment of every happiness book/blog/magazine/seminar out there and start by being grateful for what I do have.  I will list some of them here.  One for each of the five people following this blog.

(1)  That my friend who works in the outside garden section at Home Depot calls me when they get a
       new shipment of the clipped boxwood and hollies I like.

(2)  That even though so much was leveled in the storm, I can still plant zinnias and sunflowers and basil
       and have cut flowers for late summer.

(3)  That my husband has REALLY stepped up his grilling technique with the use of one of those metal
       charcoal chimneys you can find at  (see Home Depot, above).

(4)  That the morning light is still soft and magical, and if you squint just right you can pretend it was
      all just a bad dream.

(5)  Finally, that our gardens are resilient, just like gardeners, some of whom have an attitude
      adjustment scheduled for later this week.

Oh.................and some pretty pictures for reading this post.  :)      Look for my rudebeckia on page 12 of the June 2010 issue of Southern Living...........a Best of the South selection

May 25, 2010

Hailstorm Cleanup 101

I discussed these few garden restoration tips with Linda Cavanaugh on the KFOR 4:30 news this afternoon.  Here is a review of what we covered in this short segment, with just a little more elaboration.

  • Damaged, dangling limbs and branches from trees and shrubs need to be cut off cleanly, both for safety and disease prevention.  Consult a guide or expert if you are not familiar with proper pruning technique. 
  • Perennials, plants that come back year after year (with any luck!) should be groomed and lightly trimmed of damaged leaves and stems.  Remember that perennials rely on their foliage to produce food and maintain vigor.  Remove too much and you can stress the plant even more, making them more susceptible to disease and death.  Fortunately, we have a lot of growing season left for many perennials to flesh out and produce an abundance of new leaves.  
  • Annuals, like your begonias, impatiens, coleus, etc. will be the first to recover (unless they were completely flattened and transformed to mush........).  Cut them back, hard if necessary.  Water and fertilize to get them going again (too bad it doesn't work on us gardeners) and they should soon show signs of growth and renewal.  Ditto for most of your vegetables.  Some of them you may have to start over.  Sadly, in this case you may have lost time as well as plant material.
  • Do clean up all debris as soon as possible.  Piles of debris, especially rotting leaves and blooms, provide a perfect breeding ground for slugs, sow bugs and other pests.  Your damaged plants are especially vulnerable to such assault now, so clean up is critical.
  • Other considerations:  you may have lost seed heads on the self-seeders you rely on each year to keep that beautiful stand of larkspur, columbine, foxglove or some such going.  Don't deadhead those that remain.  These few may be what is required to keep these beauties coming back year after year.
  • Plant lots of zinnias, sunflowers, basil and cleome seeds now to make up for what you've lost, and give you cutting material for later this summer.
One last thing.  When surveying the storm damage with your insurance claims adjuster, don't overlook
all of the damaged (and often pricey) pots, birdhouses, bird feeders, garden furniture, etc. that took a hit along with your roof, windows and gutters.  These will have to be repaired or replaced as well to restore your gardens and landscapes to their former grandeur.

And they were grand weren't they?

And with a lot more sweat equity, they will be again.

That's what spring is for.

May 24, 2010

Before and After..........the Insane Hail

Last night, at the encouragement (or pestering as interpretation will have it) of my friend Color Girl, I decided to finally kick this Red-Riding-Hood-of-a-blog out the door, with nothing but her basket of intimidating widgets and gadgets and the over-arching notion that life begins at the end of our comfort zone.  I have no idea what wolves, woodmen, or grannies for that matter, are lurking out there in blogland.  I'm just taking it on faith that since so many people have encouraged me to do this, (and since I'm not too keen on gardening in my pock-marked garden right now), it just might be the right thing at the right time.

When that lightbulb about a blog first lit up in my head, I had such grandiose visions of posting the magnificence and seasonal miracles of my garden.  These would unfold before my readers'  (assuming there were readers) very eyes.  It would be lovely and sublime and all would envy its perfection.


So, instead, I'm letting you see the real trajectory of my garden this year............the what was, could have been, and is now        (after that *$#^% hail).

Here's how it really unfolds.

What was:

Could have been:


Is now:

What was:

What could have been

    Is now:

What was:

Could have been:

Is now:

Feel sorry for me yet?                                                                      

That's okay.  I've been feeling sorry enough for myself all week.  But an attitude adjustment is in the forecast..........

May 23, 2010

Dangerous Liaisons

Having a love affair with a garden in Oklahoma is a dangerous thing.  Like most gardeners, I am committed to my piece of earth and I am in this horticultural relationship for the long haul.  It's never been just a spring fling with me.  My enthusiasm doesn't die with the blistering summer temperatures.  I dream of it during the coldest of winters.  But cataclysmic ice, like the giant hail we had this week and the crippling ice storm in the winter of 2008 bring me to my knees.

So now I am grieving my lost loves..............the glorious stand of foxglove and peonies,

                                            the swollen buds of the poppies and campanula,        

                                           the towering larkspur and lilies............

                   and the loss of what was to come: the hundreds of hydrangea blooms,            
                             the expanses of coneflower,  liatris, and rudebeckia.......

And the BUCKETFULS of blossoms and cuttings they provided.

Don't get me wrong.  I know that a garden is an ephemeral thing.  It is not meant to last beyond its season, and that is part of its allure, its romance.  It is sweet, beautiful and fleeting, and I can accept this.  It is why I labor so to maximize its beauty and sensuality in each short season.  So for it to be destroyed, flattened, literally pulverized in a matter of minutes is more than a disappointment, it feels like a betrayal.   I was seduced.

And then dumped hard.