The last two summers past, and now this summer, leave me wondering seriously why would anyone go to the trouble of gardening? It isn’t that we have an elegant or extensive garden. It is fairly small, and problems with the soil make it easier to grow some plants in pots. Other plants are grown in pots because they are too vigorous for a small garden and can literally be contained by being pot-grown (did I mention crinums?).
And that’s another thing I’ve found: either plants grow almost too well and too vigorously, or they don’t grow at all. Or if plants do grow a bit, then they are not happy and stop growing and eventually just give up, about the same time I do.
But all of that is part and parcel for gardening, just the experiences of what plants will and will not do. No, the concerns we are finding now have to do with the total environment in which we garden: now, in the summers, for so many days it is 100 degrees or close enough; plants are supposed to need at least an inch of water a week and we haven’t had any rain in over three weeks and no rain is expected; we have to put sunscreen on, even on cloudy days because the earth’s ozone sun filter is thinning; for the past few years, the West Nile virus, carried by mosquitoes, has prevented us from sitting outside in the evenings and if we do venture out, we must use a bug repellent to ‘save our lives’. Because it is so hot, we must rise before sunrise to get tasks done outside, and the rest of the day we are exhausted.
So I look out the window at flowers blooming. I stand in the garden room with the screen doors closed against bugs and smell the scents of summer phlox and crape myrtles. And, like every other gardener, I think about what needs to be done next in the garden, and I dream that next year will be better. Without that dream, why would we, or anyone, garden?