Always a Surprise

For my vegetable gardens, I planned those out to the square foot. I developed a calendar this year to show exactly when the seeds needed to be started. When they needed to start being hardened outside. When to direct plant seeds. Even when I can most likely start the second round of cold crops this fall for another harvest.

Now, my flower gardens, I seem to have a fix-it and forgot-it attitude.

Each spring and summer I look through all the flyers and catalogs I get. My main goal is to have something flowering from the time the last snow melts to the cooling weather of fall. In reading about each flower, I look to see if it is a color I already have since I’d like a variety of colors. To help create a little bit of a natural fence, I see how tall a plant might grow. Most importantly, I check to see when it will bloom and how long the flowers will last.

In order to make sure I have space for new bulbs, I put little white plant markers in the ground. Sometimes I’ll take a picture of the garden when it seems to have all the plants that are going to grow, have at last the stem showing. Although I rarely use this later, my optical spatial skills are not that great.

After the above considerations, I place the order and promptly forget what I ordered. I say that because I have, on occasion, gotten a different bulb catalog and ordered the same bulb already on order. When the bulbs arrive in the fall, it is like a surprise gift as I never know what is going to show up.

I’m also bad at paying attention to how tall a plant will get. This is why I have shorter plants in the back and a few taller plants in the front. It is like hide-and-seek to see a few of the flowers once the tall ones get going.

When I go to put the bulbs in the ground, you might think I at least pay attention to the colors I already have planted. If you thought I did, sadly you would be wrong. I’ve been know to throw all the bulbs into a bucket and just grab one or two as I dig the hole. Another of my techniques is to grab a handful of a bulbs and toss out across the ground; where the bulb lands is where it is planted. This brings a whole lot of randomness to what is growing by one another.

If I had truly put together a long-term plan, I might have planned to have a cascade of color travel across the length of my front yard area. Or maybe have put a mix such that the front blooms with the cascade of color moving backwards. Maybe even have been more strategic such that clusters of flowers are planted so each cluster has a flow of when it blooms to when it go to seed, with the later blooming plants “hiding” the browning of the leaves of earlier blooming plants.

Nope, I do none of that planning. I believe I’m doing it in my own mind and thinking. Grand plans are made on where such and such will go. Then the bulbs arrive. My only thought then is, “Let’s get these puppies in the ground before I forget.” This leads to some of my well-planned strategies above (ha!), of where to put what going out the window.

I am being a little more thoughtful in my planning for the backyard. The goal is to have some blooms throughout the summer against the house, and in the recessed areas of the fence where I currently have to use the weed eater because I can’t get the lawnmower close enough. In the grand scheme of things, my hope is the flowers will keep the weeds at bay and provide for some excellent color while lounging on the back patio. We’ll see if it turns out in a more planned way than the front.

With the random planning of the front, I’ve already put redoing the front garden for when I retire. I’ll dig up all the current beds (after a season of meticulously labeling each plant), to sort the bulbs putting like with like. This will also be a time to replace all the clay dirt in the beds with some actual good soil. Once that part is done, then I’ll use my printed plan of which bulb goes where to create a more beautifully laid out cascade of color. I can then relax and read on the front porch with my coffee each morning and enjoy the fruits of my labor.


Maybe I’ll just leave well enough alone, continue may managed random chaos, and continue to be surprised by what pops up when. I can still enjoy my book and coffee, and the colors of the flowers, whenever they may come. Now that sounds like a more relaxing plan!

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