Diagnosis: Garden Fever

Heaven help me, I’ve got garden fever. The last time I had it was 8 years ago during those wet years. I plowed up half a dozen or more spots around the yard envisioning large swathes of gorgeous blooms throughout the growing season. By the middle of July I had only little clumps scattered over what seemed like an entire football field filled with creepers. The little clumps bloomed prettily and I told myself that they’d spread out next year. They did and the yard looked nice. Then the next year was drier, and so was the next year and the years after that. Only the weeds and holly hocks survived and thrived. If the definition of a weed is a plant out of place, then most of the holly hocks are weeds too.

This year I’ve got to do something with those sad, survivor perennials or I will end up mowing more yard. I hate mowing. With gas at $2 per gallon I hate it more than ever.

I dug out my gardening file, the one where I squirrel away pictures of landscape plans I like. Unfortunately, what I like and what actually grows in our climate and soil are not the same, so I’ve tried to adjust to reality. I don’t want to pour gallons of river water over flowers that are destined to look pitiful anyway. Whatever I plant must be drought and heat resistant and thrive in poor soil. Oh, and tolerate our South Dakota wind. They must also be perennial because if I’m going to put that much work into planting, the plants have to return next year. What I have is cactus, that mound thing with the renegade root system and of course, holly hocks. Finding filler plants is the challenge.

Today I finally got a man to man the tiller. (I’d do it myself, but it tends to run away with me and I would rather not add my personal bone meal to the flowerbed.) By procrastinating over my tilling requests, they allowed the fever to rage for too long. Hallucinations of a sumptuous perennial flowerbed edging the yard replaced reason. I’m off to the greenhouse feverishly clutching my list of drought tolerant plants. If they die, creepers bloom too. Consider them ground cover. After all, the whole point of my gardening effort is to eliminate grass that needs mowing.

I wrote this in 2004. Not much has changed but the gas prices!

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