2009 Gardenpalooza (part II)

The White Garden has come a long, long way in 20 years

The White Garden has come a long, long way in 20 years

The white garden is up and running. It’s not done done, but it’s as done as I’m likely to get this year. Up next is reclamation of the neglected cottage garden that is just outside my kitchen window and fully visible to anyone who drives up the road. Here’s what I know about cottage gardens: you can’t turn your back on them. While they look low maintenance, they’re not.

The cottage garden was inaugurated in either 1988 or 1989. It grew and it grew and I added to it and added to it until it was rather impressive for something done with no money.

Kitchen cottage garden a year or so after creation,

Kitchen cottage garden a year or so after creation.

With $100 as a Mother’s Day gift, I went to Sunshine Farm and Gardens in the early 90s and bought a lot of plants. Barry’s prices were quite reasonable and the farm was spectacular. I was inspired.  His farm and gardens were spectacular beyond belief.  I think it was then that I realized exactly what a garden could be if done right.  (Not that I had the means or the knowledge to come close to right.)

[I just looked googled to see if he was still in existence and it seems he is. I’ll have to go visit again soon.]

I came home with at least 60 plants. Included in that was Goosenecked Loosestrife and Ajuga reptans. Barry had warned me about both. He actively discouraged me when he learned where I was intending to put them.

Their selling feature was they’d grow anywhere, liked shade, and would spread quickly. I had poor soil, a lot of shade, and a lot of garden to fill. Both of them sounded perfect and I bought several of each – ignoring the warnings.

This was a Mistake of Grand Proportions.

The first couple of years I was pleased.

Then they took over.

I spent hours ripping them out, only to have them return in full glory in about 7 minutes. The loosing battled waged for years. By 1998, both had taken over about 30% of the garden space. It’s a big garden. I could corner the market on these two plants if I could surrender my ethics and inflict them on unsuspecting souls.

Kitchen cottage garden now (See Janis?  I told you.)

Kitchen cottage garden now (See Janis? I told you.)

In 2000, I decided to return to school fulltime on top of a fulltime job. The garden was neglected. In 2003 when I returned to it, the mess was daunting. Wild rose, wild raspberry, poke weed, ironweed, Shasta daisies, honeysuckle and ivy had run amok with the loosestrife and ajuga. Poison ivy and Virginia creeper had also joined the party.

It’s a mess. My formerly spectacular garden is now an eyesore. (And I can’t prove it was spectacular, because I can’t find the photos of the mature garden.)

The poison ivy and Virginia creeper attacked me with a vengeance two years in a row and it became harder and harder to convince myself to get in there and start creating order. Though out of school, my life got even more chaotic and the reclamation didn’t happen.

Now it’s 2009 – the garden has been neglected for nearly a decade.

The beauty of the white garden inspires me to reclaim the kitchen cottage garden.

The beauty of the white garden inspires me to reclaim the kitchen cottage garden.

As I said before, it’s going to be a righteous bitch straightening this out. Though I hate chemical solutions, I did consider using RoundUp. There are far too many plants I want to keep for that to be a solution.

I’m starting today. The white garden happened relatively quickly and I’m optimistic that the kitchen garden restoration will be well on its way to controllable chaos in a few weeks. Nonetheless, I expect to be at the ER tomorrow with severe skin reactions.

Wish me well.

2 Comments

Filed under June 2009

2 responses to “2009 Gardenpalooza (part II)

  1. Jocelyn

    As anti-Round-up as I am, I’ve considered it for the onslaught of poison ivy. Turns out you can just paint it on a leaf or cut stem of the plant, you don’t have to spray it everywhere. Takes awhile, but it will kill the entire plant.

    I just hate the thought of giving Monsanto ANY money.

    I’d keep the creeper if it’s near some trees. It’s so pretty in fall. And it has berries that birds eat (as does poison ivy, but you have to draw the line somewhere).

    Don’t plant winter creeper, either. I could totally corner the market on the highly desirable and noxious Coloratus. Instead, I’m considering chemical warfare.

  2. Roseann

    oh oh, I just bought a small pricey flat of ajuga, the purple variegated leaf variety along with a couple of almost purple hued ferns and a lavender foxglove. I’m planning a little perennial place where the grass won’t grow.

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