If a garden grows, and nobody comes to see it, does it really exist?

An existential crisis springs-up during the dark days of summer.

Gardens are a lot of work and, with most of it being undone by the passing of time, you try to take in that state of perfection while it lasts. A thought that I regularly have while working in my garden is, “I hope nobody shows up right now – this place is a mess!” Of course, that is exactly when somebody will suddenly stop by. Then the moment finally comes when you finish your work and think, “This looks so good, I wish someone would come over and see it.” but, with Covid19, the chances of that are slim. I’ve had only five people view my garden this last summer. It’s really made me question how much of this is for me or how much is done for attention and feedback from others. This is obviously a rhetorical question because I am a blogger but, most gardeners do love to show off their work and that’s a fact!

Me and my shadow

I have enjoyed some of the calm that has accompanied this solitude in my garden. There is a unusual freedom that occurs when time stretches out in front you. Instead of trying to get it ready (for guests I guess?) I was able to be very pragmatic in my approach and complete garden chores only as they needed to be done. I do this regularly at work but, I didn’t realize how differently I had been approaching my own garden all of these years. Maybe some of that fancy footwork was just for show.

The gloves come off…

The truth is, this summer resulted in more housekeeping than gardenkeeping. There were so many home-projects that had been put off for one reason or another, year after year, that we finally had to say, “The house has got to be the priority this year. No more just focusing on the garden!!!” I was so nervous thinking about how much work was in front of us that I debated the idea of taking the year off from the vegetable garden and grow a summer cover crop instead. Then, when Covid hit with all of its uncertainty, David and I had to admit (in true Airplane fashion) that, “Maybe we picked the wrong year to quit vegetable gardening.” We both swore that it wouldn’t take precedence over house projects but, that’s easier said than done because, once you start a vegetable garden, you know that more work is well on its way.

Vegetable garden manured, tilled and seeded at the start of March’s shelter-in-place order.

In the spring we planted our vegetable garden and waited for dry summer weather to start work on the house. It was for their own protection that I moved containers and statues out of the way. I even prematurely cut back plants that couldn’t be moved away from the house and shed: grasses, ferns and even some flowers (gasp!). At that point I was glad that there were no visitors to my house. Oh, for the shame!!

Where are they now?

Now that summer is over and we’re still finishing up work on our buildings, I’m starting to feel a little antsy from my yard and garden being in a state of disarray. It’s a feeling that’s not completely foreign to me because David tends to collect junk – ah… er, I mean stuff, but the garden is where I use to go to feel some sense of order and control.

Rebuilding the old garden shed.

It wasn’t until August that work was started on the shed. The shed is where I keep all of my gardening tools and supplies. I didn’t realize how much “stuff” I had in there until it all had to be moved: some of it ended up in the garage, some went down into the basement, I recently found some boxes stashed in our utility room and then there’s the stuff that was put under the holly tree. I know it’s close to being completed but, I can only hold off on my OCD for so long. Shelves and hooks, I miss you!

The shed should be done just in time to put the garden to bed for the winter: Kuan Yin will come back inside as will some of my less hardy plants, the shed will once again be a home for clean tools and empty containers and I’ll still be out there in the garden, just me and my shadow.

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4 thoughts on “Shadowboxing

    1. Thanks!
      I knew I was forgetting something! I’ll add a current garden photo to this post. The shed is still a work in progress and might require a seperate post to show what’s going on. That is nice to think of those times in there.


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