The new hummingbird garden
A couple of weeks ago, when I went to my fave gardening shop in the whole universe, Natural Gardener, I was so proud of myself for showing great restraint in only buying compost, seaweed extract, bean innoculant and . . . seeds for a hummingbird garden. Didn’t buy a plant one, even though they were bursting at the seams with the usual spring multitude of veggies, herbs, and flowers. Went home all smug and self-satisfied, thinking, Yes, I will just plant seeds this year, mostly from what I saved last year — how thrifty is that? No buying upteen jillion dozen veggie transplants, flowering plants and shrubs, no making any square foot beds, cuz now I have 7 (!) beds, and I will not till up any more flower beds . . .
Later I looked at my little seed packet for a hummingbird garden — a lovely array of scarlet runner beans, zinnias and nasturtiums, and all in my favorite color – RED! Then the thought — where the heck am I gonna plant these? When I bought them, I had some vague thought that I’d plant them somewhere in the back of my flower bed. However, by the time I got around to thinking about planting them, I’d already planted sunflower seeds and zinnia seeds from seeds I’d saved from last year’s multi-colored zinnias. Hum.
I could have interspersed the seeds in little places around the flower bed, but I really liked the idea of having a brilliant flame of red color all in one little spot. I’d also been thinking about putting in some more rosemary, thyme, lavendar and maybe some other herbs somewhere. Hum.
My eyes fell to a spot of yardage between the veggie bed closest to my patio and the new bed where I used Natural Gardeners’ convenient Mel’s Mix and planted more cilantro than I could ever possibly consume. Originally I had thought about turning this into a deeper raised bed for growing root vegetables, but there were other places I could conceivably put that, and I could even turn one of my raised beds on the other side of the house into a deeper bed. Hum.
Also, I noticed that the grass from the fence to about a foot out was pretty much dead — probably a consequence of our deadly dry summer last year and our hard freezes this winter. How conveeenient.
So last Tuesday night (in the friggin’ dark, no less), I decided to start ripping out the dead grass. In my madness I figured that would commit me to just having to put in a new flower bed. (I’m a Gemini, ya know, with the archetypal twin nature, and the naughty part of me is always plotting against the part of me that wants to be logical, common-sensical and have more time to sleep instead of tending plant beds day and night).
In the light of early evening the next day, a foot of bare earth next to the fence, I realized I was indeed committed (or ought to be committed to the State Hospital). I finished the dirty deed Friday night (again in the friggin’ dark).
Actually, I enjoyed the whole process of ripping out grass and literally getting my hands dirty. There is something so satisfying about tearing out grass by the root (I especially like ripping out my damn St. Augustine grass for some reason) and reaching one’s hands into the rich hummus of earth seeing (even in the dark) and feeling (as it gets darker) all the various components that make up this hummus — grass, leaves, rock, worms, rolly-pollys, grubworms, etc. (don’t worry, I wear gardening gloves when I rip out grass, so nothing yucky touches my bare hands). Nothing like it. It speaks to my inner child who loves digging in the dirt — or perhaps, more likely, to my inner madwoman.
Saturday I got up to get some herbs to plant along with the hummingbird seeds. As much as I love Natural Gardener, I really didn’t want to trudge out to BFE (that’s Big Frickin’ Egypt, y’all – I try to keep it a little clean here – a little) Oak Hill where it’s located so I decided to try a new place closer to me that I’ve heard about ever since I moved to deep South Austin: It’s About Thyme.
While IAT doesn’t have everything Natural Gardener does, it does have a nice selection of plants. And I went nuts, just frackin’ nuts. I not only bought rosemary, thyme, lavendar and basil (to grow with my asparagus and tomatoes), I bought some more strawberry plants, Mexican feather grass, and as a little treat for my kitty babies, some nice healthy catnip and wheat grass. Basically, I wound up spending over $60 that I never would have spent if I’d just stuck to my original plan of no more flower beds and just planting seeds this spring. Oh well.
Oh, and, I remembered I wanted to plant some moonflowers. I’ve been lusting after having moonflowers in my garden since a guy I briefly dated last summer loaned me his book by Scott Ogden, The Moonlit Garden. I fell madly in love with Ogden’s descriptions of moon gardens and the moonflowers which are an important part of them. Then I spent several days at a retreat last summer at Leb Shomea House of Prayer near the coast in Kenedy, TX (I’m not even Catholic or particularly religious, but this is a truly wonderful place to spend silent retreat), and big white and purple moonflowers were everywhere, and yes, they only open at night. Their scent is truly heavenly and out-of-this world. This sealed my love.
So yes, I wanted to plant some moonflowers. I went to Home Depot last week to pick up some mulch, and I thought, “I wonder if they have any moonflower seeds. If they do, then I’m definitely gonna plant ‘em.” Right then I turned around, and – There. They. Were. Surely this was a Divine Sign, right? Yes, surely it was God’s Will that I plant moonflowers. I bought two packs of seeds.
Then, this past weekend, even though I was gravely ill from pollen allergies (OK, so I exaggerate), I went out and ripped up another, though smaller, plot of St. Augustine grass, which decided to be a real bear about being torn out this time, and planted my moonflower seeds. Unfortunately it takes 2 weeks for them to germinate (2 weeks! I can’t stand it!). Well, I just have to be patient and bide my time, which all good gardeners must learn to do.
But really, now, two new flower beds? Especially after digging up extra beds for all my berry bushes? Yes, they’re small, but that’s two new beds I have to water, watch for pests and diseases, spray (organically, of course) for any pests and diseases I see, etc. And I have the main flower bed and all the veggie beds to tend to. And I planted corn and amaranth in the last veggie bed to be planted. And I have my new-courtesy-of-Mother-Nature-and-my-goofiness compost tomato bed. Not to mention that while my backyard is full of life and color, my front yard looks like crap, and I often forget to water my plants inside. And not to mention that there are other things I’d like to do. Like spend more time with my sweetie. Like have a social life. Like get to creating poetry and art again. Like, well, you know, have a life. But I love gardening so darn much — two years ago when I first started out on this journey, I had no idea I would love it this much. But I do.
Clearly I’m mad. Somebody needs to stop me, quick. Take me to Gardeners’ Anonymous. Hell, I probably need to go into gardening rehab. Maybe someone needs to have me commited to the State Hospital. Because I have totally lost my frickin’ mind.