Hey look, it's time for my annual spring garden post!
Last year, despite my good intentions, my garden really got away from me. When my mom showed up in September, the weeds were taller than the plants, the pots of herbs were bone dry, and mulching was not a concept I was familiar with. She went all Super Gardener on everything, and when she left a few days later I had a neatly mulched weed-free garden all trimmed up for fall, and two new flower beds in front of the house.
But still I was fully prepared for this year to be a total wash. Again. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a gardener after all, I thought. But then it started to get warm. Snow disappeared from the 10-day forecast. Little bits of green started to poke up through dirt.
Magic began happening in my yard.
Seriously y'all. PERENNIALS ARE MAGIC. Suddenly I get it.
I sowed a bunch of perennial seeds last May, but I felt like it was a waste, because they wouldn't bloom the first year. They just looked green and raggedy all summer and never looked very pretty.
My mom shared a bunch of transplants from her gorgeous garden, but they never looked very healthy in my yard.
I spent $15 on a single plant (clematis) and it only had one flower all summer.
Flash forward 9 months, and all those perennials-from-seed that were a "waste" have buds on them. My mom's transplants look strong and healthy. My clematis is bursting with gorgeous blooms. The peony I planted is back with three times as many buds. A strawberry plant has come back in one of my totally neglected pots (truly the biggest miracle of all in my garden this year) and there are little baby strawberries all over it. I mean, what? MAGIC, I TELL YOU.
It turns out a year is not that much time. I have been so used to signing a new apartment lease every year, that thinking about this yard as somewhere I will be working for five, ten, fifteen years was beyond my brain's capacity. But now, planting a peony rhizome that will certainly not do anything worth looking at for at least a year feels like intentionally hiding a $50 bill in my coat pocket as I pack it away after winter. Suddenly, I don't feel like I have to have ALL THE PLANTS right now, because I'll do a little this year and a little next year and every year I'll get to watch a little more magic poke up from the dirt in April.
Last year, I learned some things I like and am doing more of the same. The terrible neverending winter broke my big beautiful lavender plant, so I replaced it. I loved my peony plant last year, so I bought another. Same for my clematis. And at the end of last summer, the only thing that still looked beautiful in my garden was the zinnia plant, so I planted six this year.
I'm also trying a few new things. I've loved dahlias ever since I stumbled on a dahlia flower show in Chicago. Mine probably won't be quite so magnificent, but the package promised "dinner-plate sized flowers" so you never know. I planted some butterfly weed to provide food for larval monarch butterflies. I'm putting some herbs in the ground instead of in pots. (Lower maintenance for the win!)
Who knows, maybe come September everything will look just as ragged and sad as it did last year. But I'm going to try to be less discouraged by it, because now I've learned the secret: spring comes back every year.