It appeared in my inbox, a question from a local gardener. How can she continue to take care of her garden as she ages?
"I am looking for guidance so I may continue to enjoy my yard and garden and yet make gardening work easier as I age in place. I hope that you might be able to help me."
It is rewarding to be asked for gardening and design advice and provide answers. But this was a serious topic without clear answers. Others have written and spoken to me with this question.
My gardens bring me joy and peace, but also disappoint, not when a plant fails, for that is part of it. They disappoint when I am not able to care for them as I want. The common dayflower fills all spaces around the plants in the perennial gardens. Thistles grow tall and flower in a matter of days. Lawn grass creeps in. Roses go unpruned and flowerpots unfertilized. Edges dissolve, paths disappear. I may be describing your garden.
It is our nature, though, to live with disarray. Order is what we impose on ourselves. I am guilty of this. As a landscape designer I talk about the importance of a plan and I do believe this. We need to be able to adapt to the needs and characteristics of the site and not impose a structure on it. Through the unplanned, wonderful things happen. Diversity in the prairie comes from the wind and insects pollinating plants randomly.
This morning I was outside trimming pots, taking spent blooms from the daylilies and sweeping in the morning shade from the house. I was happy in my work and the fact that I did not get to the pots on the terrace did not bother me. Because I had gotten out this morning and made progress, getting out there again soon seems completely doable. I need to accept easily crossing fewer chores off my lists. Making shorter lists would help.
My husband’s approach, now, is to garden for two or three hours and go on to something else. Gardening less leaves time for other pursuits. We should look at our lists of books to read, friends to call or write, walks to take and places to visit.
Recently I heard a story about Willie Nelson on NPR. At 85, he recorded a new album and is still touring. The title, "Ride Me Back Home," is about rescue horses. He has a ranch full of them. The track, "One More Song to Write" describes the theme of the album. I am not a country music fan, but I like these songs.
Here is what has been going on in my garden.