Cranky Garden

My garden is cranky.

It’s a lot like a family that went on a long summer vacation.

The family starts out with bags neatly packed, the car all cleaned up, and everyone is rested, excited and ready to go.

My garden started the summer that way, too, all cleaned up, freshly planted, and poised to grow.

Those first few days of the family vacation are so exciting. Every mile brings new sites, exciting adventures, ooohhh’s and aaahhh’s as everyone points excitedly at every change in scenery. Look at that! Wow, it’s prettier than I thought it would be! This sure isn’t like we remembered it!

Those first few months of the summer garden were exciting, too. Every week brought lovely rain, lots of rain, and every day it seemed there was something new flowering. Ooohhh, look at those June flowers. Aaahhh, July’s flowers were exciting too. Wow, all that rain, the garden was greener than I’ve ever seen it! It sure wasn’t like last year!

Then the family begins the journey back. Clothes are dirty, the car smells kinda funny, and everyone is tired and out of sorts and cranky.

Then the garden hit August, or August hit the garden. Smack down! The rain is gone, the garden is starting to have that funny “too dry” smell, the flowers look droopy and tired and can barely put on enough of a show to attract the bees.

My garden is cranky!

After a long shower, some home-cooked food and clean clothes, and a bit of alone time, the family comes back together and remembers the good times of their journey.

So to will my garden be remembered for the good times of 2008! With a little bit of ‘garden time’ this weekend, I can revive my garden and remember it as a good garden. I’m going to:

- Water. I always give Mother Nature a chance to deliver the rain, but that doesn’t look likely, so I’ll start watering this weekend.

- Weed. A weed pulled now is a dozen weeds I don’t have
to pull next year. I’ll pull out all the weeds I can find before they set seed. If any look like they’ve already set seed, I’ll throw them out in the trash, not in the compost bin.

- Remove. I need to pull out some of the annual flowers that are clearly well past their prime. I’ll look for fall annuals like pansies, mums, and asters to plant in their place for a nice long show into late fall.

- Deadhead. I can prevent a lot of problems next spring by deadheading those perennials that are rampant self-sowers, like Bee Balm (Monarda), and False Sunflower (Helianthus sp.), now. I’ll leave the black-eyed susan’s (Rudbeckia sp.) and coneflowers (Echinacea sp.) because the goldfinches love the seeds and I like to watch the goldfinches.

- Enjoy. I need to remember to rest and enjoy the garden. After all, it’s a holiday weekend in the U.S. so I have a whole extra day off from work. I'll use some of that time to enjoy my garden.
What will you do this weekend in your garden?


  1. sometimes rational thinking has to win...

  2. This is the time of year you need to top up the mulch to keep the moisture in the soil and reflect some of the heat away. But a long cool drink and a wander is important for you too!

  3. Carol, I love the analogy to family perfect, since so many folks head out to see the world in August. I've discovered that I can water and water but only when rain falls on my garden does it snap to attention! have a good weekend!.


  4. Great writing, Carol! My garden is cranky, too...only chance for water in the past week came and went without a drop! Now the next chance is a several days away, so my weekend will be spent much like yours. Have fun!

  5. Your analogy is fun, Carol - hope you don't mind if I play with it!

    Austin began the growing year with a rain deficit and early heat and insects.

    So our garden-car smelled funny from the start, and my flower & vegetable family tumbled into the car unshowered, with stuff thrown into laundry baskets rather than neatly packed. We looked in vain at the map for signs of rest stops ahead. No wonder the trip went downhill from there.

    Your suggestions are all good ideas - if we ever get back in the eighties!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Love the comparison to a family vacation. I could relate when you said "every week brought lots of rain" to the garden. The past few summers, lots of rain came on my vacation! Oy. My weekend? Lots of deadheading, salvaging what I can of my tomato plants. Will be sad to see them go ...

  7. Sounds like a great plan of attack this weekend. That is what is on my list of things to do too.

  8. Very funny and excellent advice, Carol. Imagine how cranky it would be if all the fun started in April and didn't end until after September. I am tired, and I want to go home.~~Dee

  9. I made the rash decision to open my garden in September, so the whole week will be spent tidying up and frantically trying to stage things to look their best. Found a source for free wood chips on Craig's List, so they will cover a world of sins, but I will pay later.
    Loved your post, as always. Your imagination knows no bounds!

  10. This is a most excellent post! I've felt these sort of things but never expressed them so wall.

  11. Here on MCOK, it's not only the gardens but the gardener subject to fits of crankiness. Compared to some of mine, that coneflower of yours looks pretty good!

  12. Absolutely, my garden is cranky and at about 2 pm each day, so am I.


  13. Nap in hammock under the morning glory vine.

  14. One of the 'good' things about having a dry spell is the wonderful smell of the earth when it is freshly watered.

    Rain releases the scent best but ordinary watering still brings out that refreshing aroma!

    Lucy Corrander

  15. I'm going to take your advice this weekend, Carol! This time of year I'm usually too busy to do much in the garden, and it starts looking a little pathetic that I think why bother? But it definitely needs water, too, and I like your reminder that "a weed pulled today is a dozen I don't have to pull next year."
    Enjoy your weekend!

  16. It IS August! It's not just me!!!

    Well, okay, it may be me, too, but... I just posted a cranky gardening post of my own yesterday, and I noticed that I had a similarly whiney post last year in August about my garden. Between you and Mr. MacGregor's Daughter posting similarly this week... I'm feeling like I may still be crabby, but at least I have good company. :)

    By the way, congrats on your new blogging assignment!

  17. Watering is big on my list. I have had an incredibly long break from it, since our late summer in Seattle has been unusually rainy. I don't think I've used the hose for over two weeks, which has got to be a record for this time of year! Like the family vacation analogy - I think a lot of us are ready for back to school in real life and the garden too!

    - Karen

  18. Your post reminds me of that Norman Rockwell painting that's actually 2 pictures. The top is the family on the way to the beach & the bottom picture is them coming back all droopy.
    Last year too much rain in August, this year not enough, a gardener just can't win. I'm looking forward to the freshness & crispness of the autumn garden. Everything always perks up when the weather cools, especially the gardener.

  19. I saw the 10 day forecast and the chances for rain aren't looking too good.

    Great analogy!

  20. I'll second Annie's analogy.

    Our summer vacation began with steam spewing out of the car radiator before we'd even left the city limits. We pulled over to the side of the road while other happy campers zipped by us laughing and singing and obviously enjoying THEIR summer vacations. We got a tow back to town, put the car in the shop, and sat gloomily on the curb. Now it's Labor Day and the summer campers are heading home, tired and worn from their short, intense summer flings. Our car looks shaky but the mechanic assures us it is road-worthy. So we are about to set off again--a little more cautiously, a little more anxiously but very much ready for our vacation at last.


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