Sunday, May. 11, 2008
Dear Diary:

Go big or go home. If I had to summarize my approach to gardening, those five words would do it.

It wasn't that I planned things that way. It happened that way because the spousal unit and I have never been awash in the buckazoids. Our house was always a build and improve as we could afford it proposition.

With construction always happening around the house, any gardening I wanted to do had to be done a fair ways away from the house so that things wouldn't get destroyed. Surrounded by the lush greenery of forest as we are, the only way to notice a garden a fair ways away from the house was to make it a big, splashy garden.

Plus, while I mock the spousal unit for being a packrat, I, too, tend to hoard things. My things, though, are plants. I take everyone's cast-offs. What started out as a handful of hostas has turned into thousands of hostas. Give me a dozen daffodils and I'll divide them every three years until I suddenly have hundreds of daffodils.

While his hoarding drives me nuts with the clutter, my hoarding is a beautiful thing.

There is nothing excessive about thousands of hostas.

Oh, be quiet.

Then last year I put in the walkway garden.

Mighty quiet.The walkway garden is the antithesis of everything I've done here on this property. It's my garden of little things.

Frustrating little things.

Little things whose butts I want to kick.

I had this cunning plan. I would group things together so that even though the walkway bed is very small, there would always be significant splashes of colour. I planned out early spring, summer and autumn sections. I left little pockets to snug in annuals so I would have constant summer colour.

Oh yes, it was a cunning plan.

So how's it going?

*Insert image of middle-aged woman trying to redirect attention from walkway garden towards daffodil meadow*. Hey, look over there, isn't that pretty?

Okay, so it's not going according to the cunning plan. I planted crocuses, primroses, and columbine together, reasoning that they would all bloom simultaneously and give me a charming spring show.

The crocuses decided to bloom about two weeks ago. They are now a drift of grass-like ripening crocus leaves.

The pink ones look too beautiful to be real.The primroses, as you can see, are in full flight and the columbine why the columbine might flower in a few weeks, when the primroses are done.

For those of you keeping score, it is Walkway Bed 1, Marn 0.

An unexpected thing has happened, though. Because I made the walkway a meandering, curving shape, both the spousal unit and I tend to meander when we walk up it.

I know.

What are the odds? Meandering on a walkway that meanders. What will they think of next?

To my surprise, we both notice the tiny things, even though they are pretty much invisible compared to my big, splashy gardens.

Tiny blue flowers. For instance, the brunera is flowering. Even in this picture the eensy weensy electric blue flowers (which are about half the size of a thumbtack head) barely show up. But when you stroll by them, the contrast of those electric blue flowers against the pale green and white of the brunera foliage is, well, it's a big hunk of wonderful, that's what it is.

If I threw that plant into one of my large beds, all you'd ever see is the brunera leaves. Granted, they are lovely leaves and the primary reason I grow the plant, but now there's a tiny bit of extra beauty, something I would have missed without my garden of tiny things.

Gardening gives me such joy. Gardening drives me crazy. Something always goes wrong. From time to time something goes far more right that I deserve through a wonderful accident.

Today I will finish the renewal of the long bed. It has half killed me and really looks like nothing at all because it is largely empty. This year I will fill the gaps with a few flats of cosmos and more variegated nasturtiums than you can shake a stick at, so that I can keep the weeds at bay.

This fall, when the plant sales come, I'll start stocking it with bits of things I love.

Will I get that garden any more right than I've gotten my garden of tiny things? I doubt it. I see years and years of tweaking ahead of me, years and years of moving, dividing, shifting, trying new plants.

My brother-in-law was up here on Friday to drop off my nephew for a visit. As usual, I was covered in mud. I'd just taken a break from renewing the long border and was wrapping up planting several hundred hosta plants that I'd divided from another section of the property.

I took merciless ribbing for how extreme my project is here, how crazy it is for a man and a woman to carve what is basically a small park out of the rocky woodland of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Both men remarked that it is an insane amount of work to do what the spousal unit and I do. We're often out until dark every night in the month of May dashing about doing all the things that can only be done in May.

The thing is, it's only work if you don't enjoy doing it. Even at my lowest point in renewing the long bed, when I thought that my back couldn't take another minute of shovelling, under it all was the joy of possibility.

In the end, that's what gardening is for me, endless, endless possibility.

It's probably a good thing I live in a climate with long winters. If the growing season was any longer up here, I'd be dead by now, eh?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 174.11 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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