Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

August 31 2020

A wonderful thing happened not so long ago. I put up a hammock in my garden and for the first time ever, I laid in a hammock. I know! What other small thrills have I been missing? This momentous event brought to mind the need at this time in my life to acknowledge that my body objects to long days physically laboring in the garden. I have to take breaks. Apparently.

I’ve been told that my gardens are restful and calm and there certainly are lots of sitting areas, but as the head gardener (only, actually) I assure you there is an endless list of jobs-planting, pruning, weeding, watering, repeat ad infinitum. I believe that this work keeps me strong and healthy, but I can see the handwriting on the wall and it’s loud and clear. I must have seen it coming, hence the chairs and swings and now a lovely hammock with it’s invitation to rest.

Aches and pains aside, I need the gardens as much and they need me. I’ll have to find the balance between work and rest. I can’t separate work and play as these two concepts are so intertwined in my life as to be inseparable. Even vacations frequently involve gardens. On one trip to Florida my intrepid cousin and I visited eight public gardens in as many days, spent about three hours at the beach, and skipped Disney World altogether. Passion is a fine thing.

Maybe the upside of slowing down (and asking for more help) is that I can ease up enough to appreciate all the beauty that surrounds me. And cultivate patience, not my strong suit. A garden is, of course, not particularly suited to immediate gratification; even annuals take time to reach their full potential. I have planted trees from seed but I can’t bring myself to do that anymore. It’s not only that I will never see them grow up, it just makes more sense to at least start with a sapling.

Planting perennials (or biennials) from seed still takes time, but the rewards are closer. Usually the first year you will not see flowers, but you can get a lot of plants for your money. Two springs ago I started seeds for Rudbeckia “Indian Summer”. The first summer there were only small fuzzy leaves close to the ground, but a year and a half later I was blown away bye spectacular 6”-7” glow in the dark gold flowers that hold their color for over two months. Lots of them. More than I would ever have bought as potted plants. It was worth the wait. And besides, the hammock is calling.

Rudbeckia hirta, “Indian Summer”, perennial zone 3-7. Note: Rudbeckias (aka Black Eyed Susan or Gloriosa Daisy) are considered a short lived perennial, sometimes biennial, but reseed readily and are best grown as annuals according to seed catalogs. Note: my plants did survive the winter and reseeded also.