Adventures in Horticulture

A few weeks ago, we had a nice stretch of sunny days and I had an extremely uncharacteristic spurt of motivation, and I finally decided to tackle the disaster of my patio once and for all. I spent an entire Saturday bagging nasty moldy leaves, dried-out sticks, various wormy and/or pede-family creatures, and the two camp chairs I’d left out in the weather until they began to rot. Thank goodness for work gloves, seriously, because I would have died if some of that stuff came into contact with my prissy, girly, baby-soft hands.

Once I’d bagged all the nasties and scrubbed down my patio furniture, I was left with an impossibly bare patio surrounded by dirt, and I had the bright idea that I’d go to Lowe’s and find some stuff to plant in that dirt.

I’m sure I’ve written here before about my complete inability to keep any kind of plant life from dying, much less cultivate a plant to grow and thrive. In terms of living things I could put in my house, cats are a good fit for me because in the back of my mind, I always know that if I forget to feed them, they might eat me alive – so feeding the cats regularly is more of an exercise in self-preservation than anything else. I don’t think you could say that for dogs (who’d just sit around all howling and mournful), plants (who’d just quietly wilt and die), or even babies (who’d poop and flail and cry themselves to death), which is why at this point in my life I generally have no use for any of the three. So when I decided to plant some stuff, I didn’t even know where to begin.

Here’s what I know about my patio area – it has dirt and it’s shady. So I called my dad to ask him what I could plant in shady dirt and he recommended I ask the friendly garden staff at Lowe’s to point me in the right direction. I went out there and wandered around for a while picking up some other stuff I needed, and then I checked out the garden area. It was really busy and I waited for what seemed like ages before I gave up on getting live help and just started looking at the plants.

Lowe’s had these handy little garden-in-a-box kits, and one called itself a shade garden, so that’s what I got. It even had a helpful little picture of where to plant them in relation to one another.

I got home and got out the plants. The labels were really unclear so I wasn’t entirely sure what was what, but I guessed as best I could. One of the alleged plants looked like a dead piece of root, but I planted it anyway, because maybe it was supposed to look like that.

I am stupid. You could put a piece of butterscotch candy in a bag full of dirt and tell me it’s a flower seed and I’d probably plant it. If you told me it was a seed for a plant that grew butterscotch candy I’d probably plant a whole bunch of it.

So I planted the dead piece of root (which may or may not be false spirea, I’m not sure) and some other stuff – lily of the valley, hosta, bleeding heart, and possibly another hosta or the elusive false spirea, and I watered it with my new watering can and went about my merry business.

Now I have a little garden that appears to be actually sort of growing, but it also looks like a five-year-old’s My First Garden effort because, shockingly, the dead root didn’t grow, and two of the five lily-of-the-valley plants are kind of droopy and crooked, and I accidentally planted the hosta and the possibly-another-hosta like two inches away from each other, with the bleeding heart in front of them. At least I think it’s a bleeding heart. It might be that stupid false spirea.

In any case, the bleeding heart or false spirea is growing really well, and the hosta and possibly-another-hosta are growing well but looking more and more like two different kinds of plants every day, and the dead root – well, the dead root has continued to be dead.

So I have a lopsided, poorly planned, kind-of-growing garden, and I’m really excited about it. I took pictures but am too disorganized to remember to put them on Flickr so I’ll try to remember tonight. And we’ll see if they flower.

9 Replies to “Adventures in Horticulture”

  1. Yay! I’m excited about your garden. It can be really rewarding. I tend to replace the plants in my patio planters every season, so it’s okay if they die…I just get new ones. :)

    I wish we could grow Lily of the Valley here. They’re so pretty.

    You could do some research to see which plants you can grow to attract butterflies. That’s always really fun and those plants tend to be easy to grow (although they’re not always super pretty).

  2. GE has a really cool website that lets you “grow” a flower based on creative words that you type in a little box and “send” to it. That’s the kind of garden I like best, but I do happen to have a substantial number of plants in my house at the moment. Some are thriving, some not so much, but it does feel good, doesn’t it? Happy Green Thumb!

  3. WIthout reading the post, I’d just like to take the opportunity to quote:

    Horticulture: You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.


  4. and also? Did you just stick those in your existing patio dirt? If so maybe you should have mixed in some fertilized soil or something.. that’s one thing I learned from 3 months watching Rally-round-the-house while bed ridden

  5. I totally stuck them in the existing patio dirt. And also, your plant is not dead yet but it lives at my office now after Abby and Marco started a campaign against it at home.

  6. Ah, any effort such as this is better than a leaf-clogged, abandoned patio. Good initiative on your part. This year I planted 35 fruit and nut trees, along with a dozen elderberry bushes, so I heard the same instinctive horticultural call. Some people look through gardening catalogs over the winter to piece together their design for the coming spring. May be more than you care for at this time, but could conceivably be your MO someday.

  7. i love your garden – you should get a bunch of giant hostas and that’d fill up some space. also periwinkle – very pretty shade-loving, flowering groundcover… buy, like, 8 of them and plant them a few inches apart… that’s my advice! :-)

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