There is the notion that working in the garden brings the gardener a sense of tranquility and calm. Ha! Certainly not in the month of May.
Gardening in May is a race against time, against weeds, against the grass, against the weather, against your own plants as they undergo growth spurts like lanky teenagers. And for me it is a very unfair race, because I can only run on Saturday and Sunday, whereas everything else is zipping along 24/7.
The fact is that I cannot get done all the things I feel need to get done in the allotted time.
Sunny days approaching 90 degrees F? OK, I laid out soaker hoses for some plants and watered others by hand. Nevertheless I fear a few of my new plants may have been fried past the point of recovery.
Grass is growing excessively shaggy and creeping into the flower beds? OK, I’ll mow the lawn and trim the bed edging with my weed whacker (after Judy, the weed whacker is the great love of my life).
Weeds staging a hostile takeover throughout the garden? I will roam the flower beds with hoe and dandelion picker in hand. However, this is by definition a task that can never be finished. During this time of year, pulling weeds is like cutting off Hydra heads, they grow back as fast as you pull. At least, that’s how it feels.
Perennials need cutting back? I succeeded in cutting back the New England aster and most of the Salvia (‘May Night’, ‘Blue Hill’), even though the Salvia was not that tall. On the other hand, I didn’t get to the Agastache or the Monarda.
And please don’t even mention staking. I took care of the Phlox paniculata and most of the New England aster, but that’s all. The Penstemon, Monarda, and Heliopsis I did not get to at all.
This situation brings on in me and some other gardeners a state of mind I call The Permanent Fret. I am always fretting – if I don’t cut back the Agastache now, will it delay blooming to an unacceptable extent? And what about the Salvia, did I cut them back too early? But if I wait until next week it might be too late!
Of course, a person might ask why, if I get worked up into an irritable frenzy with garden chores, did I dig up so much of the lawn for so many flower beds and borders. To such a person I would say: who asked you?
Whew. I’m taking deep breaths now. At times like this I have to remind myself of two of the cardinal rules of gardening: 1) don’t worry too much about making mistakes; and 2) your garden does not have to be perfect.
Have the garden chores of May been driving you to madness?