Tag Archives: gardening

Reunion Rhyme – For the RHS Class of 1982

Cyclones class of ’82, how does your garden grow?  In 40 years, these plants have grown- some rapidly, some slow.  Some sprouting leaves, some spreading seeds, and flowering as they go.

A few stand tall, some standing short, some spread along the ground. A garden of mosaic art familiar, yet new-found.

Some leaves are broad to catch the rain, some narrow, small; we can’t explain the reasoning how they thrive so well – except God’s grace, we hear them tell. Bloom where you are planted, I’ve so often heard and chanted.

Once our plants were in one plat and lived among this habitat. We grew from seedlings, shoots, or grafts – thriving as we learned our craft. With help and care from those who taught our landscape grew and then we sought our own estate. We took our seedlings to create.

And here we are, a lifetime passed, our gardens grown and fruits amassed. I’ve pondered this and have to ask:

Friends from 1982, how does your garden grow? With humble grace in your chosen space, from seeds culled long ago.


I worked in the garden today, removing the troublesome weeds.
The apprehension of a thistle, dug deep with a trowel,
broad leaves and thorns that won’t concede.

I dug through the garden today, pulling up my anxiety.
The crabgrass and chickweed spread in the clover,
rooted deep with angst and unease.

I weeded the garden today, prying the nightshade free.
My concerns over nettle and henbit and dock
disquieted my plain revery.

I cleared out the garden today, the soil freshly turned to see
the divots and pockets where once were the nutsedge
now awaiting new flowers and seed.

The Caretaker

I’ve planted my gardens, the seedlings are nestled in soil.
Their placement in sunshine and shade impacting the toil
of the growth and the fruit that they bear.
All I can now do is tend to the water and care
of the ground and the branches where the issue resides
and pray that fair weather and gain will intensify.
That one day these young for which I’ve aided and viewed
will grow with abandon, and with their sustenance accrued
plant their own gardens and remember the day
of planting and harvesting love in their own unique way.

Not sure of what to call this yet. And I think it is a sonnet in the making. Right now, though, it expresses a profound sentiment in this poet’s life.

Don’t micromanage the garden…

I’m not feeling the poems this week, so I thought I would just write…

I think I’ve mentioned here that I like tomatoes.

A poem about growing tomatoes

A post where I mention planting tomatoes…

In a general sense, I think I am infatuated with the idea of growing something out of nothing (or a small thing)…wanting to be a creator of something. I think this is an innate desire that drives people to achieve. My past “experiments” with tomatoes included growing them in various size planters. I moved them around to maximize sunlight, watered them religiously, gave them plant food every couple of weeks. I think I did this in an attempt to control the plant…I know I “wanted” it to grow. Granted, I didn’t have a suitable planting area in the ground until this year. I even purchased plants that were genetically engineered for a patio/porch environment. This achieved limited success with a crop yield. Maybe 6 or 8 tomatoes. I was very keen on controlling the situation and getting the plants to grow under my supervision and plan.

Can you micromanage a tomato plant?

This year I dug a large bed in our back yard and left a suitable space (about 3 sq. feet) for tomato plants. I planted three (2 grape tomato variety, and one regular plant) during Memorial Day weekend. Save for one dowsing with some miracle food (which I have always done, even when plants were in large pots), I have done nothing unusual in the care of these plants. Granted, it has been somewhat rainy in Ohio this summer, and temperatures have not been too extreme.

You’d have thought that the alien plant from “Little Shop of Horrors” was growing in my yard. So far there are no missing animals in my neighborhood.

Feed me.  Feed me Seymour!

Feed me. Feed me Seymour!

I would expect the grape tomatoes to grow everywhere…it’s like a vine and gives you clusters of tomatoes (hence the name), and it is overtaking the neighboring rose bush. But I did not expect this from the “normal” plant. The tomato stalk/stems are spreading every which way. Obviously a sympodial stem… Ultimately what has stuck out in this exercise is that I have done very little with these plants except add a taller stake in the ground every 6 or 7 days to keep the stems from crushing under their own weight. The tomato yield is going to be phenomenal. I count at least a dozen fist sized tomatoes, with smaller ones popping up every other day. tomatoes

I suppose if one were to have a take away lesson from this it would be:

Don’t constrain the garden with your idea of how it should grow. Plan it, plant it, give it some nourishment now and then, keep an eye on it, and let it grow.

If you think about how other things flourish…

plants, animals, and people

this is a successful management strategy.

Memories…within yew, without yew

We do gardening on summer holidays.

It’s what we’ve always done.

Most of the time, it involves planting impatiens or petunias or marigolds. Sometimes, it can be more…I remember one Memorial Day weekend when I boldly decided to rip out a row of old growth yew shrubs from the front beds of our house (at the time). I was intent on creating new flower bed spaces and getting rid of an old shrub that I could no longer shape into anything attractive (think basic geometric shapes, 3-5 feet in size). And while yews have their redeeming qualities (they are evergreen, offer an herbal remedy for rheumatism, potential cancer cure in taxus, and they make awesome hedgerows for mazes), it wasn’t doing anything for our curb appeal.

In taking this on, I did have some concerns: I was afraid of destroying our foundation, hopeful of discovering a lost cache of pirate gold (in Ohio….yeah), or worse yet, getting half way through and realizing that the roots extend DEEP into the ground and having to call in reinforcements to yank it out of the ground.  The foundation was ok and the treasure wasn’t likely anyway, as there have been no stories of privateers sailing up the Ohio River (plus no evidence of a treasure map in our attic).

However, the roots went deep and wide…probably 50 years deep, judging by the age of our home at the time.

The first one came out easy enough, but it was near the driveway, and I either had more leverage or more horizontal root spreading to chop. The last one was not so easy… it just laughed at me, as only yews can do. I had to dig, and chop, and wedge, and dig some more…I broke a shovel. I took a break to go the nearest hardware/home improvement warehouse and buy another shovel. I think I borrowed a chainsaw or an axe from a friend. It’s all a blur now.


Finally, I won.


I chopped it into submission, and dug it out. And laying sprawled on my back on the lawn, I realized that I was free from the yew. I still had landscaping to do though, with building a retaining wall, adding soil, planting cute little boxwood shrubs (that I wouldn’t see grow to 50 years maturity- it will be someone else’s problem).

Fast forward to this weekend –

We don’t live in that house any more, and our landscaping issues are much easier.

I don’t attempt to do everything at once. In the last year I have dug a new bed along the back our house, transplanted a rose bush from the front to the back (because it get’s more sunlight there- and I don’t have to get stuck with a thorn every time I walk by it). I also transplanted 3 snowmound shrubs to the back bed because they would tend to grow over everything.

Everything needs the right amount of space.

In their place (this weekend) I planted gutter plants and dianthus (here’s hoping the rabbits don’t eat it). In the back, I weeded some rather large milkweed stalks (or it could have been alien pod plants – they appeared rather quickly and then put down some liberal amounts of weed killer and top soil. Then I planted some nice ornamental grasses, some yellow flowers (marigolds and begonias), and some tomato plants (I’m a glutton for disappointment).

So that’s how I spent my long weekend, and the beginning of summer.

Excuse me while I look for the ibuprofen.