CrrriticShut Up And Dig

I give up on my garden in the dead of summer

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I have a confession. I let my garden go to hell in the dead of summer. Even worse? I think I might be okay with that.

In the intense sun and dry heat of the Colorado summer, I become a lazy gardener. I have to admit that unlike ranter Allen Bush, I know how to “sit a spell”; it’s possible that by late summer, I’ve become too good at sitting back and watching my garden do as it will.

I let the bindweed get out of control before I drag my heels through the yard and pull it out in a huff. I let my newly xeriscaped front yard get parched and faded before I even consider watering and deadheading it. I refuse to water my established perennials at all, and, by now, only the most xeric flourish. I don’t even bother fertilizing. And that area that’s supposed to be the “lawn”? Forget about it. We decided to stop wasting water on that a long time ago.

While I try to be confident in my laissez-faire garden attitude, I still feel guilty when I think about all of the plans I made for the yard in the preceding months. A xeric, pollinator-friendly garden to replace the lawn. A lovely flagstone pathway with creeping thyme perfectly filling in the spaces. A native wildflower patch bursting with flowers and buzzing with bees. Swaying swaths of ornamental grasses. A tidy little veggie garden. While I made a brave attempt at all of the above in the spring, I do little more than water the veggie garden and containers by the time we hit July.

I can live with a little garden guilt — I am a mother after all — but the gardens I admire on my daily walks have the potential to send me into a downward spiral of garden despair and insecurity. These gardens have colorful flowers, verdant plants and lush lawns. It’s clear that the owners of these gardens water, weed and fertilize. In other words, they garden.

I claim to be a gardener, but when the endless dry spells and scorching heat of the Colorado summer hits, I question my fortitude. Do I have the grit? Maybe I should stick to the reading, dreaming and designing that I enjoy so much. Maybe I should stick to enjoying the true gardeners’ gardens.

Nope. It turns out I can’t entertain that notion longer than it took to write it. My garden may not be perfect, but it sure as hell is well-loved. So, I guess I’ll keep forging ahead as a “fair-weather gardener”. I love to dream in the winter, work hard in the spring and sit a spell in the heat of the summer. And I think I might be okay with that.

Posted by

Emily Reeves

on July 26, 2016 at 7:31 am, in the category Guest Rants, Shut Up and Dig.

3 Comments

  1. Agreed. I try to limit my plantings to xeric, heat-tolerant plants that will survive anything. And my garden is at its best in the spring and fall. The heat is exhausting, that’s for sure. The only time I feel like I can get anything done is after my son goes to bed, and by that point, it’s getting dark and all I want is a glass of wine!

  2. Watering is easy with an irrigation system and/or greywater distribution system. Drip is quite efficient and you can just set it up to water deeply once a month in summer to be frugal. Greywater can completely change how you garden as it is a constant supply of water. With a branched drain layout you end up with areas that stay fairly wet and as such requires different plants than the super drought tolerant ones that a typical xeriscaped garden would use.

  3. Ah, yes, drip systems are the best. That’s what I have in the veggie garden, and I love it. I think once-a-month watering would be do-able, even with my strict “waterwise” gardening approach in our drought-prone location. I love the greywater idea. Thanks!

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