August 3, 2010

The Gardener's Lament

You should have been here last week.  You would have been impressed last month.
It looked so good a while ago.  Why did you come today?

The gardener's lament.

I was so excited to have my son visit me recently.  Although he grew up in this area, he now lives in L.A.  He had been here last Christmas, but had not seen the yard or gardens in summertime since a visit in 2007.  My gardens, new and developing and constantly changing, look so much more impressive than they did 3 years ago.  Well, they did.

I should have known they would tire, fade, and poop out before his visit, and they did so in the blasts of a hot dry windy July. They had looked so good in June.

He's not a gardener, so I had no expectations that he would admire my plants or understand what has gone into tending them.  I just wanted his overall impression to be Wow!  Look what you've done, Mom!  Lookin' good.

He's an outdoorsman, with an acute appreciation of nature's wondrous sights.  He hikes the Sierras, he mountain bikes, he skis snowy peaks and drops down sheer cliff faces.

Impressing him with a nicely edged border and some yellow coreopsis was folly.

Plus he lives in southern California.  Even a tiny bachelor pad apartment in a working class section of L.A. is awash in color, blooms, fragrance and abundant foliage.  All year.
He dodges the bees and ducks under hanging flower clusters every day going in and out of his apartment.  And I was worried my tired petunias were not at their best?

But.  It did look so good last month.  Vibrant, showy, almost California-like in its exuberant color.

We had a great visit, he was sweetly polite as we looked over the yard and I wailed the gardener's lament, telling him he should have been here earlier in the season. Then he asked me "so what are you doing, Mom, now that you've been retired a while?"
What have I been doing?
Besides watering, weeding, planting trees, moving shrubs, replanting, digging, removing sod, turning compost, hauling six cubic yards of loam, spreading nine cubic yards of mulch, hacking invasives, deadheading, dividing, rolling large rocks, pruning and redistributing the surface of the earth and all its biomass half an acre at a time?

I might take a cooking class, I told him.  Just to keep busy.


  1. This is priceless. I have had that same conversation. Ha... Beautiful garden none the less. I am glad you had a good visit with your son.

  2. Gigglesnort! Loved the reply you gave him, and isn't that 'the garden looked soooo beautiful last week' lament such truth for all of us.

  3. Oh, some day he will learn... ;-)

    I think a great garden still looks great when a little pooped. Good garden bones - your gardens got 'em!

  4. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words about my pooped out garden!

  5. My twenty something kids don't see the garden at all whatever time of year they visit. They are more interested in the contents of the fridge I'm afraid :)

  6. Cyndy, so true! The pantry and refrigerator did get a lot of attention on this recent visit.

  7. I agree with Ms. S -- your garden has good bones! And I could totally sympathize with every line of this post. My parents finally came to visit me here -- in February. Gah! "Give me a tour of your garden," Mom said. Um... and here's where some stuff is dormant, and here's where some annuals have died... ;)

    I laughed so much at your response to your son. You don't know busy until you've hauled loam in the heat of summer!

  8. Meredith, a garden visit in winter? A tour of dead annuals and dormant stuff is beyond the gardener's lament. I hope your parents came back in summer!

  9. Your property is beautiful, and all your hard work really shows.

    I've discovered that even now that I'm not working (unemployed, not retired, unfortunately), I STILL can't keep up with everything that needs to be done.

  10. Fern, thanks for the compliment. there never does seem to be enough time for all the upkeep!


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