When The Garden Calls, You Listen

Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday was a very good day.

It was a good day because I played in the dirt.

Because you see, I am a gardener. I am someone who loves growing and nurturing things. I love getting my hands deep into the soil and creating beauty from my efforts.

Yesterday, I did a ton of this.

Gardening is not something I’ve done much of since moving into my new condo. I have planted things, it’s true, in the small garden bed outside my front door. But I have not puttered the way I usually do. On some level, I think it simply hasn’t occurred to me as an option for something to do when I have had time free.

Yesterday, though, I did it. I’ve been meaning to for weeks, and yesterday I got it done.

My first condo was the first home where I had a chance to grow things. I had a lovely balcony there. It was in the sun most of the day and I grew a variety of different things in large pots. Okay, mostly different varieties of clematis, but a few other things as well.

The balcony at my old condo

I had a huge archway trellis and clematis growing up either side. I had pots with clematis and small fan trellis. But I also had pots with strawberries. I had window boxes with tulips. I experimented with growing various vegetables in the window boxes, too. (Carrots did surprisingly well.)

Ultimately, I left the condo when I moved in with the exN. Eventually, the condo was sold and the exN and I bought a house.

The house had a ton of space for gardening. The front yard was a blank slate; it was mostly grass. What happened there is a story for another time, and, unfortunately, it is a sad one.

The back yard, though, was landscaped and it was beautiful.

I would go outside and putter for hours back there. Gradually, I made the beds larger and planted more in them. My plan was to slowly take over the lawn space and get rid of all the grass completely.

My dream yard. Image courtesy of Edge Landscape Company in Wilmington, NC.

Oh but the hours I spent back there. Hours of quiet, just playing in the dirt and making things beautiful.

Then everything fell apart. I had to find a new home. Initially, I was looking at houses. I thought a small house for myself would be lovely. But then I thought about the upkeep. And, more importantly, I thought about how unsafe I felt whenever I was home alone in a freestanding house. It freaked me out to not share walls with neighbors.

I decided to move back into a condo.

When I announced this to my friends their very first reaction was to gasp in horror. “But you won’t have a yard!”

Somehow I knew it would work out. And work out, it did.

I have a balcony out back and a little garden bed right outside my front door.

Granted, I’ve done absolutely nothing with the balcony.

But with the garden bed, I’ve started to have some fun.

Here is that bed at the start of the day yesterday. I planted a few things at the beginning of the summer, but other than watering I wound up doing nothing by way of upkeep.

It showed.

Here are the “before” photos.

And here, is what I thought were the “after” photos. I moved the fern to the back corner. I tore out the snapdragons, the things that had died, and the petunias. I ditched the terra cotta planter and moved the small plants that were still alive from the front right of the bed to the back left.

That was all I had planned to get done. It seemed like a lot.

As I finished up, though, the mailperson arrived with a package for me. It was the order from Spring Hill Nurseries I placed a couple of months ago. Which meant, it was time to do my fall planting.

I’m about to gush about Spring Hill a bit. Please know I have no affiliation with them. I just love them so much that I have to share.

Back during my clematis-obsessed days, I learned of Spring Hill through gardenweb.com (which I guess is now owned by Houzz? I had no idea!). I once was an active participant in gardening forums. It went hand-in-hand with African Violet hoarding… but again, another story for another time.

I loved Spring Hill’s clematis selection back then, and how reliably they shipped quality products. Plus, they always waited to ship until exactly the right time for me to plant and took any guesswork out of the equation. They keep track of weather forecasts and gardening zones so their customers don’t have to.

Our first frost will hit any day now. Spring Hill made sure I got the fall plants I ordered right when it’s best to get them into the ground. Their service hasn’t changed a bit.

(Sidebar: If you sign up for Spring Hill’s emails, you’ll receive the most amazing sale notifications. Don’t make purchases the first time you visit their site; if you wait a day you’ll probably save a ton. Most of the sales can only be accessed via the link in the email. And no, I’m not being paid to tell you about this. I really do like them so much that I’m gushing a bit.)

Obviously, when the order arrived I recognized that my work for the day was not done.

My order included a Fragrant Star Clematis, a Valentine Dicentra (also known as Bleeding Heart), and a 15-bulb mix of Fragrant Hyacinth.

Unboxing shot! Clockwise from top: plastic bag containing soil and crown and stump of Valentine Dicentra, box containing roots and small shoot of clematis, and net bag containing hyacinth bulbs

The order from Amazon (yes, this one is an affiliate link) with the new trellis I’d ordered arrived a week or so ago. I’d been putting off setting it up until the new clematis arrive. Clearly, it was time.

Thus, here’s the real “after” photo. Obviously, I screwed up assembly on the trellis somehow, but I was too tired and sore at that point to care. It’s something I can easily fix some other time.

The Bleeding Heart is left middle, and the clematis is to the right of the trellis. The hyacinth bulbs are scattered throughout. Obviously, none of the new plantings will be visible until spring. Most of what you see in the photo is dirt but there’s a lot of dormant perennials buried in there.

The Morning Glory slid off the bamboo tripod and transferred easily to the new trellis. That was something I had been concerned about. It was a relief when it went well.

My back is sore as hell now and probably will be for a few days, but the sense of satisfaction I feel is more than enough to make up for it.

Oh! And the best part? It started to rain not thirty minutes after I finished and I believe it continued through the night. Everything I planted and relocated got watered in quite nicely!

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