Once upon a time I saw a cute little sign that said “Gardening is the Slowest of the Fine Arts.” I had never thought of it that way, but isn’t that the truth?! I’ve always been creative, taking art classes throughout my childhood, but in recent years my creativity has been channeled more through my gardens. Where I used to paint with acrylics, I now paint with flowers. I’m not sure that they’ll ever be magazine-worthy, but I enjoy the process of choosing and arranging plants and watching them mature to see how I did. And that wait can be years!
I love looking at plant catalogs, especially in early spring, and choosing new plants to add. Daylilies grow well here, so I’ve been adding more of them, choosing two to plant together that I think will complement each other. Hopefully, they’ll bloom the first year I plant them, but it may take longer for them to co-mingle like I envision. These two, Amish Patch Quilt and Purple de Oro, were chosen and planted together.
Coal Miner and Frances Hughes, are planted in another bed near the front fence.
Each area of my garden has different colors emphasized. I try to think about what is already there and plant other things that will complement them. And then there are surprises along the way from volunteers, or things I forgot I planted.
Every season, I’ve had a zone of my front yard garden that I’ve focused on to start or improve. A few years ago I worked on the narrow strip of ground between the driveway and the front fence. I worked hard to pull out all of the grass and weeds. As I did my spring cleaning and found plants that could be divided, I moved the divisions to that area for freebies. I also bought some plants and seeds. The following year I had the fun of watching those plants come up to see how it all looked together, and then I added some more.
Most recently, I’ve been working on an area under a large oak tree in the side yard. When we replaced the windows in the house, suddenly we could see better, so I want to make the view from the bedrooms prettier. There, too, I’ve been pulling up grass and adding more plants. Because of the massive oak tree, it’s a shade garden, so I’ve transplanted ferns and a native hydrangea from the woods. I bought hostas and impatiens. There are a few azaleas back there, too. I’ll wait til a little later this season to see how it’s coming along and what needs to be added. Does it need some height? Some structure? Something that blooms at a different time? I’ll already be thinking ahead to next spring.
I choose small plants which means waiting for them to mature. I do that for several reasons. First, where we live is very rocky and digging deep holes is arduous. Secondly, small plants are cheaper. Thirdly, I’m often transplanting from the wild and it’s difficult to get all the roots of a large plant, again because of the rocks.
For those reasons, there are many plants in my garden that are small now, but with time will become much bigger. That means envisioning how much space they’ll eventually need and how they’ll affect the other plants around them. For example, I have a small redbud that I transplanted a few years ago. “Fred” is only about four feet tall right now, but I hope with time it’ll grow into a tall beautiful tree. I also have a Crepe Myrtle that came up as a volunteer and I moved. It’s only about 8” tall now, but it will get very large. Then I have a few small Rose of Sharons. More waiting!
I’m just realizing how patient I am. Not everyone enjoys waiting long periods of time to see their artwork come to life. I could buy a bunch of plants, landscape the yard in a relatively short period of time and be done, but I enjoy watching the transformation over time. We’ve lived in our home for twelve years now and when we moved in, the front yard was just dirt. What you see now is the result of years of work and I still see so much more that I want to do.
If, like me, you enjoy the slowest of the fine arts, each day and season are different and it’s never boring. Gardeners are very patient artists!