Garden Upkeep

Yesterday, I cleaned the front garden.  It took me 2 hours but it looks amazing.  The truth of the matter is that it’s probably the last time it will look this good, until next year.  I have perennial plants in it – they take care of themselves (and the weeds also take care of themselves).

I remember when we moved into our house, the front garden was a small funny lawn with ugly box hedges around it, you couldn’t see the house for the hedges.  “Well” I thought “those are going to go, I see flowers!” .  When the weather got warm enough I was out there ripping up the hedges, digging gardens, adding soil, planning walkways (keeping in mind that this garden is about 10 foot square) and having my brother-in-law build a small wall at the front by the sidewalk so that the garden would stay in the garden. 

I’d accept flowers from everyone, my mother-in-law’s was the perfect shopping trip – she has a beautiful garden and is always separating and digging up flowers and has tons to give away, all us daughters have flowers from her garden in ours. My friends bought this post war house and the woman who lived there was the original owner, she had peonies running the whole length of the back garden – my friend is still trying to get rid of  50 years of peonies. I’ll take whatever she want’s to give me, they are one of my favorite flowers.  The 1st plant I bought and planted was  a lilac bush – the funny thing is that’s the 1st thing I put in at the cottage as well.

I’m not sure if it’s because we bought the cottage or if I’m just “over” my garden but the past few years I’ve been really bad at taking care of it.  Even the back garden which is basically pots hasn’t received the attention it deserves.   Since I spent 2 months at the cottage last year I did do pots there – mainly herbs, but 1 pot was Lavender – which doubles as a flower for me. Nothing in Toronto, since I didn’t think anyone would be here to water them.  

When we came home from the cottage at the end of August the back garden had exploded into a jungle. It was a perfect garden year, lots of rain then lots of hot sun.  My phlox were so tall they came up to my 6’4″ husbands shoulders and would drop little dew drops on him as he walked by to get to his car in the morning. 

It was so over grown that I hadn’t noticed that my sweetie had put a protective cover on our a/c unit until this spring, when everything had died down and the snow had melted and I could see the unit from the deck – over looking all the tall dead stalks. I did notice, however as I glanced towards it, that my herb garden, protected alongside our house, had started to show signs of life.  The chives, always the over achievers, have sprouted and I can see the small pink and green buds from my rhubarb plant poking out of the cold earth.   The lemon balm, as usual, is spreading it self around (the tart that it is)  and I will be pulling that out from between the flagstones for days to come.

Some of my little concrete creatures didn’t make it through our winter.  The rabbit in the herb garden looks like he’s ok. The frog has definitely gone belly up.  My little piggy will probably be fine after some gorilla glue.  The other little resin bunny and the little metal chicks are fine, unfortunately, the hideous resin gargoyle I got years ago from a movie I worked on, is still alive and kicking. Yuck!

This year I’ve vowed to take a closer interest in my gardens front & back, city & country.  Today is back garden cleaning day, if it stays as nice as I’ve heard its supposed to, I might even set up the patio furniture.  I think I’ll do my pots this year even if we might not be around for part of the summer.  It stays so warm through september, that it will be nice to come home to some flowers instead of empty dirt pots. I won’t put as much in and I might try to find someone to come in once a week just to water everything. 

I’m going to plant herbs at the cottage again this year, just in pots.  I was thinking, I’d love to have white hydrangea plants along each side of the small back deck.  Then I realized, that although they would look beautiful, I’d have to dig a garden and plant them and take care of them and since I’m not there year round it might not be such a great idea.

Instead, what I’m going to do is take the sunflower seeds I got from the shower I went to a few weeks ago, find a nice sunny place and plant them.  I’m going to hope that the lawn guys don’t run them over with the mower or weed whack them into oblivion and that they make it.  That way our little blue cottage can have flowers, the birds can have seeds and I can have some hint of a low maintenance garden, in both places.

Dream Big,


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