I know I’ve been absent from the blog for a while, I am probably one of the laziest gardeners in the world. My last baby chard harvest was on in mid-July, and after that, I basically let my garden go a little wild—at least as wild as it’s possible to go in the middle of South Philadelphia. There are weeds everywhere, and things are looking a little… spent. About the only garden task I’ve kept up with is refilling the bird feeder, and that’s not really gardening.
Fortunately, I’ve learned from previous years that I am a lazy gardener. Back in May, I had set up a soaker hose with a smart timer. It took a little tweaking, but the plants now get watered every day for 5 minutes at 6am and 5 minutes at 7am—without me having to lift a finger. It’s a smart system, so it automatically delays watering in the event of rain. And if I think the garden needs extra watering, I can turn it on using my phone.
You have no idea how much I love how lazy this allows me to be. No. Idea. Now if only the garden would weed itself.
Last week, I was looking at my “blue” plants and thinking that really, they’re more like purple. Then a few days later, a gardening podcast I enjoy listening to, called Let’s Argue About Plants,released an episode called “True Blue Beauties.”Of course, even on the podcast, there was some argument about whether some of these plants weren’t in fact purple. Overall, I think they did a good job, and I might have to add some of these plants to my “Someday” list.
My not-actually-blue (but I still love them plants) include Salvia Blue Hill and Phlox Swizzzle Blue. Salvia Blue Hill looks more purple to me, though apparently it’s more blue than some of the other mounding salvias. Phlox Swizzle Blue is more of a lavender color with some pink in the center. Meanwhile, my purple coneflowers are more on the pink side, if you ask me.
Meanwhile, in another part of the color wheel, there’s the red/orange issue. This year, I planted painted lady runner beans, which are now flowering. The blossoms are lovely, but I was expecting something red and white. Instead, in my garden, they look more like orange and a lighter color ranging from white to creamsicle.
This is just the spring and summer flowers. I have two asters that won’t bloom until autumn: Crimson Brocade and Bluebird. They got a bit burned last summer, though, so I’m not really sure what color the flowers will actually end up being. Maybe red and blue? Maybe pink and purple? I’m looking forward to finding out, but I suspect it won’t be quite what I expected.
Recently, I decided to start gardening selfishly—although perhaps I should say I decided to continue gardening selfishly.
There are a number of ways in which a garden can be a force for good in the world.
A garden can do social good by providing food for an individual, family, or community.
A garden can support bees, butterflies, and other pollinators—which in turn supports our ability make food.
A garden can support wildlife beyond pollinators by providing food and habitats for birds, small amphibians and reptiles, and invertebrates like bugs, worms, snails, etc.
A garden can support water management, either by being efficient in its use of water or by mitigating flooding by absorbing rainfall.
A garden can help support and preserve populations of native plant species.
My garden… doesn’t really do any of those. I mean, I grow some food, and I have some pollinator plants and plants that provide seed for birds. I have one or two native plants. My planting containers are probably better than bare concrete as far as managing water goes. But my garden isn’t really designed around any of those purposes.
Instead, my garden is an entirely selfish endeavor. Its purpose is to lift my mood and give me something to do. And maybe that’s enough?
Like most of the northeast, we had some unseasonably cold weather last weekend. I had already planted several cold sensitive plants and was worried that they’d freeze and die. I devised some covers out of old clothes and bedsheets for the beans and basil seedlings. I didn’t manage to get everything under cover though.
It turns out, I probably needn’t have worried. Everything pulled through—even the beans that didn’t get covered.
The patio is almost all concrete, which traps heat. In winter, or during a cold snap like the one we just had, it’s often quite useful. I can often start gardening a little on the early side and continue later into the fall.
The difficult months for my garden are July and August, but I’m slowly learning how to deal with those—mainly by carefully selecting which plants I try to grow. I suspect the beans will be fine this summer. We’ll see how the basil does.
Interestingly, my perennial salvia (Blue Hill) has put out some flower buds. I’m not really sure if this is normal timing for it. I got this plant last June. It thrived last summer, and was already lush and green even in early March. We had a strangely warm winter, so it may have just gotten an early start, or it might be that the cold snap tricked it into thinking it was later in the year than it actually is. Either way, I’m eager to see how the salvia does this year, especially since these will probably be the first flowers to bloom on the patio this year.