The informal gardener

I let Mother Nature take care of being fancy
By Joanne Peterson | Jun 06, 2013

Every year I approach summer gardening much the same way as the year before. I stand inside the sliding glass doors to the deck, gazing out at rain, considering the odd lot of flowerpots I’ve accumulated over the years.

I view them with a critical eye and determine that this year I am getting rid of several of them.

What fun is a deck in summer if there is room for only one chair and a passageway scarcely wide enough for one person to scoot through, sideways? What fun is it if pots are so huddled together it’s difficult even to water the plants?

This is what I decide every year: This year I’m NOT jamming every inch of space with flowerpots. This year, the deck won’t look as if it’s been put together by a random flower-lover who cannot say no to one more four-pack of plants, much less refuse another empty pot marked down 50 percent.

Basically, that’s what I say to myself every year, and I mean it – at the time.

I determine this will be the year I’ll have one pot that’s a variety of fragrant blues, another that’s all snowy white, one that’s filled with snapdragons, one with marigolds--plus the two pots with the red geraniums, several years old and thriving. Enough. Six pots. Ten max. Maybe twelve.

Some folks plant a few well-planned floral displays in urn-shaped pots, incorporating tall grasses and perennials with long names, displayed artfully near patio furniture with matching weather-proof cushions and tilting umbrellas, to crank up in the event of sun.

I don’t actually know any of those people, but they are out there. Their potted plants are color-coordinated, eye-catching and lush with bloom--enviable. (See “Sunset” magazine.)

I’m an informal gardener, though. Nothing fancy—I let Mother Nature take care of being fancy. I don’t own elegant pots or deck furniture either.

Many of my pots have deteriorated through too many seasons, and I certainly own pots I no longer favor.

But if I discarded them, it’s unlikely anyone else would want them, poor pots. So there you have it. What can I do?

My flowers—again this year—will not be coordinated. I already know.

This weekend, wearing my mom’s old garden gloves, I planted half of what I’d impulsively purchased, arbitrarily tucking plants in here and there, humming, not sure where to put the rest. Then, yesterday, I bought more.

When a neighbor moved, he gave me an old wooden bench I’d long admired.  It’s on my deck now, with a blue quilt and two oversize pots, one stuffed with sweet-smelling blue petunias and alyssum, the other a big red geranium. Lovely.

This summer, I’ll be on my deck, enjoying my garden, a profusion of assorted flowers in mismatched pots.

I wish my mother could be here with me, in Edmonds, where so many decades ago, humming, she planted flowers every spring. I’m leaving room for two chairs.


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