So, this week I was looking back to see what creative projects I completed during the month of March and I was a little dismayed at how little I had gotten done.
I tried to figure out what the heck I had been doing with my time, and I realized that most of it was spent in the garden.
While I love gardening *very* much, I just can’t be spending three hours out there everyday. It’s too hot, it’s way too much sun (even with all sorts of protection, the Southwest Florida sun is *not* friendly), and the gardening becomes much less an enjoyable activity and more of an obligation.
But there was just so much to do! And it wasn’t the fun stuff, either (like planting seeds and persnickety pruning, which I enjoy). It was the “leaning over eight pots, balancing on one foot, desperately hoping NOT to fall through the screen while trying to find a creative way to wind yet another 15-foot tomato vine around the single bamboo stake which already has seven vines attached to it” sort of stuff. It was the “two pails full of leaves and deadheading per day” sort of stuff. Endless sweeping and hosing (I won the battle with the aphids, though) and watering and pruning to keep my little container garden from turning into an unruly and unpleasant jungle.
Anyway, after finding myself spending more and more time gardening, and growing a little grumpy about it, I realized that I had to make some decisions. Some of my plants had gone from living in four inch pots to requiring giant buckets with holes drilled out the bottom and requiring even MORE space… therefore, it was time for graduation.
Whenever I transplant a plant from my container garden into the yard of my house, I consider it a rite of passage. So I decided that it was graduation time again, and made the decisions on which plants would be moving up to the big leagues- lots more space to grow and a sprinkler that would water it automatically.
The first plant to make the transition: a gold Lantana. It started out as a tiny part of my first “mixed container special” from Home Depot, but it’s now the size of a small bush. I pruned it somewhat relentlessly, even a little harshly, but it has kept flaring back to full size, responding to each cut with double the growth. It required a ton of water and space and it wasn’t playing fair. So the gold Lantana has been transplanted to a spot outside my art studio window, where I can look out on it every day, where the butterflies might find it, where the sprinklers will water it, and where it can grow and shed as much as it likes.
Some of the Coleus I planted last summer as a result of the “100 mixed Coleus Seeds” (that weren’t mixed at all) are also going into the front yard. Their stems are now the size of Gracie’s wrist and they get VERY tall when I don’t regularly trim them (so much for the “compact and low growing” claims on the seed packet) so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do when they aren’t restricted.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it made a tremendous difference in the amount of daily requirements of the garden from one day to the next. HUGE difference.
And while I was looking around to see what plants deserved graduation, I found some happy surprises:
While examining my oldest Bromeliad and trying to make a decision on its fate (it’s old, it’s incredibly smelly, and based on all the research I’ve done, it appeared to be done with its life cycle) I found two pups (baby Bromeliad shoots!) growing vigorously just on the soil line. This Bromeliad had already given pups in the fall and then did a lot of nothing besides shriveling and getting pretty brittle, so I thought it was time to say goodbye, but apparently it’s still got something to give.
I immediately babied the plant, spending a lot of time washing the nasty slime out of it (tip: if you grow Brolemiads, DO NOT let water accumulate in the center and leave it there. When you discover it, it will probably be one of the most foul things you will ever experience in your life.) Now it’s in a new pot with fresh soil and is getting royal treatment.
The Gloxinia I forgot about because it got hidden under the out-of-control gold Lantana is thriving and has several buds on it. When these bloom, I will take photos because they are *really* cool flowers- the size of a small plate and literally covered in velvety fluff.
The Hydrangea I almost lost to fungus has completely regrown and has several tiny blossoms on it.
And behind the stalks of some Lemon Queen sunflowers were some smaller sunflowers, growing well (see photo at the top of this entry).
So, some goodbyes, but also some new beginnings. And less work. What more could a gardener ask for?