A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

With old age, comes wisdom

Remember when I fell down my basement stairs two years ago? My hip never really stopped hurting. The past few weeks, the pain has intensified. I had it x-rayed and the doctor recommended that I see an orthopedist. Arthritis, of course. I can’t have an arthritic hip! How will I garden? Getting old is no fun.

I’m trying to stay positive. Old age has its advantages too. How about all that wisdom I’m supposed to have accumulated? Let’s see how wise I’ve become.

It’s been raining for two days and my hair is a frizzy mess. When I was young and foolish, frizzy hair was the end of civilization as we know it. Nowadays, I value it as a weather gauge. A quick glance in the mirror tells me the exact level of humidity. A slight curl indicates mildly elevated humidity. “Big Hair” means extremely high humidity.

I’ve stopped trying to control my garden, adopting a “free-range” approach instead. If a plant pops up in an unexpected place, instead of immediately moving it to where I want it to grow, I leave it. Obviously, that spot is a good one for it. After all, who would know better the optimal place for a plant than the plant itself?

The same holds true for plants that have been sited according to my latest “design”. If it doesn’t grow, I try something else. If it does grow, I plant more. That’s how my shady garden evolved into something so beautiful, that I use this picture as wallpaper on my computer:

The Wood Hyacinths were planted a decade ago. Originally they were an assortment of colors. Only the blue survive, the muted color perfect in this pseudo woodland setting. When I finally gave up on flowers in this bed, I tried ferns. And last were the hellebores. With all of the different leaf shapes, color other than the blue of the hyacinths is not needed.

I’ve also stopped ruthlessly ripping out anything that I didn’t plant. I allow “weeds” to grow. Occasionally those “weeds” turn into something beautiful, either a wildflower or a domesticated flower added to my garden by the birds.

I regularly practice “psychic” gardening. I get sudden urges to plant flowers in certain places or in certain combinations for no reason. I just “have a feeling”. Consider this combination:

The Echinacea was a passalong, given to me as a housewarming gift twelve years ago. It didn’t do much for years until I figured out the secret to making it multiply. A few years later, I added the Japanese iris. Last year, I added the lunaria. I had no plan in mind, just a feeling. And it paid off. I’ve been enjoying this combination for months now.

Best of all, I am wise enough now to truly appreciate my gardens. The colors, shapes and surprises draw me out of the house every day no matter what the weather. Gardening is the best therapy for mind and body.


At 8:08 AM, Blogger Carolyn gail said...

You, old ? I don't think so ! Sidelined by an injury maybe. Old is defined as ten years older than you are. That would be me.

Sorry to hear of your intense pain from arthritis. That can really get you down.

One of my client's has a severe case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and her hands and feet are deformed from it. She fell down her steps this year and injured her feet and shoulder. Despite her painful condition she still struggles to garden. She's a real inspiration.

Once you get your pain under control you'll bounce back !

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Andrea's Garden said...

Hello, sorry to hear of your pain problem and hope you will get better soon. I have the same approach to my garden as you have. If a plant pops up somewhere it means that it wanted to have this spot and I leave it there. If it doesn't want to grow somewhere I try another and if all fails, it has to go. :-) Take care, Andrea

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Bev said...

OldRoses, I soooo know what you mean and empathisize about arthritis pain and how difficult it can be to garden....which is what I live for! I keep an article in my garden basket about this. It's about the power of guided imagery in treating pain. Her advice is "instead of pushing it away, accept that the pain will be there...then you'll be able to find ways of dealing with it." Sounds like a defeatist attitude, but I believe it helps. Sometimes I save every bit of energy I can and put off doing whatever, just to go out in the garden and do one little thing. Often I have to take a break for a couple of days to rest my body. Water exercise also helps me. I totally understand how you feel and how it can make one feel "old." I love your plant combinations and philosopy about them.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Whole House Dehumidifier said...

Your garden photos are quite lovely, indeed it would take years of experience to have such combinations and plant productivity.

At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Beth said...

This is a wonderful post. There is no shortcut to wisdom; thanks for sharing yours.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

Your thoughts about gardening are similar to mine. Go with the flow and nature will have a few nice surprises for you.

Ps. Watch for invasive seeders and try and control them. I know from experience they can ruin a garden.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger sisah said...

It is "Green Sunday" ,I am clicking my way through the blogs and found this compendium of wisdom! This posting is great, and reflects completly the feelings I have lately about gardening and getting older ! I think I´ll print it and hang your posting at my pinboard ! Thank you!

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Oooh... Caren, you and I have the same hair! I have long since given up taming mine as well.

Glad that you're giving in to these "psychic" impulses, btw. The results are looking good. :)

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Connie said...

I like that last flower combination....it looks great! And I heartily agree that gardening is the best of all therapies for body and soul! :-)

At 8:22 AM, Blogger KC MO Garden Guy said...

I was directed here by the Empress of Dirt, http://empressofdirt.blogspot.com/ and I can see why. Love your out look on getting older. But is old? This could be debated for years. I too have learned to let plants grow where they come up. Nature has a color combination in mind and can do it better than us at times. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.


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