Tag Archives: milkweed

No Matter


july2016 148

I didn’t plant a garden this year. No time. I’ve also not had time to weed, water and prune the flower beds and the beds of strawberries, raspberries, asparagus and rhubarb. I’ve complained about it on a regular basis, anticipating the worst.

“I have to plant…” changed to, “If I don’t plant…” which then became, “Since I didn’t plant a garden…” and the sentence always ends, “I’ll be having to watch it grow up in weeds.”

In other circumstances, if I could not plant a garden, I could let it go back to lawn. That’s what my brother has done – shockingly – with the large parcel that my Dad used to turn up every spring. Other than one small, fenced patch of garden, the whole space has gone back to green grass. You’d never know it was once covered with tomato and squash vines!

I plant my garden in raised beds, in rectangles four feet wide and twelve feet long. Some are framed in with cedar boards; others have stakes at the corners only. All, by the addition each year of compost and manure, are raised above the level of the narrow pathways that separate them.In addition, the garden is bordered with deer fence, supported by cedar poles.

I cannot wrestle the lawnmower into the fenced garden area, remove all obstructions of wood, wire or twine, and trim the overgrowth. If I could, and if I did, the raised beds would give the area the look of rows of shallow graves…not the manicured lawn I would hope for.

So, I watch it grow. Occasionally I sigh at the grasses in the pathways and the weeds crowding the berries in their patches. I whine about my lack of time, and how I miss the garden. I complain at every radish or cucumber I have to buy at the market.

Yesterday, coming home from a jaunt to Fox Lake with the dogs, I noticed the climbing roses are opening on the trellis beside the front door. Mint and other wildflowers are blooming under and around the service berry bush. The tall orange daylilies are showing off in the borders and beside the kitchen door. I looked toward the garden, ready to sigh my disapproval. Instead, I smiled.

Brown-Eyed Susans areĀ  at their peak, keeping company with the wild Marguerites. St. John’s Wort shows off yellow flowers next to white Bladder Campion and Yarrow. Magenta Sweet Peas climb into the lilac bush. Milkweed perfumes the air and boasts floppy pink flower heads. One red Hollyhock stands at attention.

In a year when I had no time to give it, the garden gave beautifully back to me!








I like flowers that have a little wildness in them.


I’ve tried roses before, that promise cabbage-like, perfect blooms in shades of apricot or cream. I’ve fought the many things that challenge these dainty beauties, from soil that is too sweet, to rust, to aphids. For my efforts, I’ve sometimes ended up with one perfect flower. Too beautiful, even, to leave outside in the elements, it must be cut and brought inside, displayed in the good vase, in a location of special honor. Company should be invited over then, on pretense of a meal, so that the flower can be admired. Every day, change the water and trim the stem, to prolong the bloom time. When it is finally done, collect the petals and dry them, to be saved for some later, unknown – but special – purpose…

Then comes winter. Though ringed with dry leaves and shrouded in an inverted, rigid foam bucket designed just for this purpose, these beautiful hybrids rarely survive. But…

Below the graft is “peasant stock”…a hardy root of something closer to a wild rose that, if left, will come up healthy and worry-free with common blooms by the dozens in pinks or red or yellow. Butterflies abound, but other insects don’t seem interested. It will stand the heat of summer and the freezing temperatures of winter. It will grow into a loose shrub or a climbing vine. This is my kind of rose!

It’s the same throughout my garden.


I go for the tiny species tulips, grape hyacinth, and common iris. I love the poppies, day-lilies and hollyhocks. I have waves of the wild daisies just now giving way to the wild brown-eyed susans. Wild roses and blackberry canes lean into my yard, and just beyond, the course milkweed perfumes the air with the most delicious scent.


Specimen plants may be fine for others, but I enjoy my weeds.