Monday, April 11, 2011

Plant post

Every year I vow to make the flower garden at my in-laws into something more than the weed-infested patchwork that it is. And every year I end up falling far short of what I want to do. This area has been my pet project for about seven years. Remi had already planted some trees and perennials there before I came to France. One of my first summers here we created a little pebble path at my suggestion. When I say "we" did it, I should specify that he did 90% of the hard digging and hauling and I helped spread the pebbles and got us water to drink.

Since then, every year I add a few perennial plants or put some seed-grown annuals to create summer color. And though it is starting to fill up with plants, some of them are growing a bit too much (vinca, you know I'm talking to you), others not enough (black monkey grass, you are so slow!). And let's face it, as I mentioned last year, watching a toddler properly requires ALL my attention, so there are some limits as to what I can get done in this garden.

Some things are successes like the peony plant that has come back every year and has a good number of buds on it this year (will post photos when it's in bloom). The daffodils are multiplying nicely. You can see Juliette standing next to the lambs' ear plants (Stachys byzantina). Back in the days that I would peruse gardening books in the US, I became enchanted with the common name of this one. It's true the pale green leaves are soft and fuzzy. It has spikes of small light purple flowers in the summer. It can get a bit invasive though.

A new addition is the Cornus alba "sibirica", with its characteristic red brances which make our grey winters a bit less dull. I've been wanting one of these for a while, and the good thing about having a garden center owner for a husband is that I can take plants at will from his stock!

My goal is to have it looking something like an English border garden and to one day (!) put tags on everything so that Remi's clients could walk through and be informed about cool plants.

But for now at least, this garden is mostly a mix of haphazard choices. Filling spaces with the odd perennials and trying to win the war against the ugly thistle plants and stinging nettles. Before Juliette came into our lives I would painstakingly paint a leaf or two of those weeds with Roundup and let the herbicide do its thing. But now I don't use any chemicals in this garden and just use my arm power to pull things up. It's not always so succesful but sometimes parking myself in a sunny corner and weeding is a nice way to spend an hour (while Juliette naps safely indoors).

But I'll never get all those weeds. I suppose, like all things in (my) life, I'm going to have to accept this garden with its imperfections.


The Many Colours of Happiness said...

I think it looks great!! I love plants and you made some fantastic choices :)

Crystal said...

I like the metaphor at the end about not always being able to pull up all the weeds, but just having to accept some of them.

You can tell you are passionate about all things flowers and plants and gardens from this post. I love the descriptions of the plants and how happy you are working in the garden or perusing garden books. One day I hope I have a big garden, and I'll definitely ask you for some plant advice!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, very nice! I have also been battling the weeds in our yard. We have some seriously big projects to tackle in our yard this year, and for once, we actually feel like we are getting things done. Albeit very slowly, with lots of thorny fingers, and for some stubbornly huge weeds, some Roundup. *blush*

You are right that it is a work in progress. I always think of my parents who every year tackle another huge project. Sometimes ripping up what they did just a few years earlier... Even when you are 'done' there is always something else you can do, and improvements to be made...