‘Rotten gardeners’ see the wonder in what they sow


We were recently asked if we ever sit in our garden, and the question surprised me. I suppose it shouldn’t have because most gardening programs and articles focus on all the work excellent gardeners have to do. The really good gardeners are always deadheading, dividing their plants, edging beds. That makes me a rotten gardener because every day I just sit in my garden and observe. It makes the work to maintain it much easier.

I certainly work in our garden. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t remain a garden but become a wasteland. But it’s easy to find weeds around our place, the flowers aren’t always free of spent blossoms and I’m always behind on dividing plants. The front garden is only half-mulched at the moment. But I’m not cutting back on the time I spend sitting in the garden just to spread mulch. Less sitting makes me less likely to work, more likely to burn out.

I noticed our garden is full of honey bees again this year. There seem to be two different kinds, so maybe some are from a wild hive and others from the hives on St. Mary’s Hill.

A couple of young sparrows were introduced to the platform bird feeders and seemed rather miffed that they were expected to start feeding themselves, but they finally got the message.

One young rabbit persists in visiting the back yard and is so bold it doesn’t even run when I chase it. Loll around when the dogs are out and there won’t be a young rabbit any more.

I know each hummingbird zooming around the yard. They’re constantly at the little tube feeder. Right now, though, they’re feasting on a yellow lantana and the blackberry lilies, ignoring the fancy fuchsias and the red Bolivian begonias. Apparently they don’t know they’re supposed to like red flowers best.

A dozen or so tadpoles have graduated to frog status in the last couple of weeks — they still have tail stubs and are so edgy they jump at the slightest disturbance.

There are five different kinds of dragonflies swooping through the garden, mayflies and tons of monarch butterflies, although that’s probably because my husband is raising them from eggs in a cage in his office.

There’s a robin nest in the arch over the back sidewalk, all of the birdhouses are in use and one of the male cardinals keeps getting chased off the platform feeder by a feisty robin.

Could mulching be more rewarding than all this?

Young people on TV property shows moan when the perfect house comes with a postage-stamp yard because they think they’ll have to spend all weekend taking care of it. They’ve been brainwashed into thinking yard work is an all-consuming job without reward. More bad gardeners like me, who sit and study and are encouraged by what they discover, should rise up and show them they are wrong.

Gardeners, take a break, sit a few moments and see what you have made. Every garden is an oasis that sustains life and it should renew us. But you need to take a break and observe it, not just as you breeze past going from car to house. Take it from a bad gardener who knows — the wonder in your garden outweighs the work if you let it.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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