Monday, May 21, 2012

Gardening in Moderation

I returned home at noon from my 4th chiropractic visit in two weeks.
It has always been frustrating to me that while my back--or shoulder--or ribcage--can 'go out'--it can't 'go back in' short of coercion by a professional.
"So, what have y'all been doing?" asks Dr K. as she bustles into the consulting room.
"Err, more gardening," I admit sheepishly.
Dr. K. presses a button, a motor hums and I am tilted flat on her table, face buried in the
paper-swathed headrest. 
"Is this the onset of old age?" I ask, as Dr. K. prods at my shoulder. "Do I have to stop gardening?"
[I am feeling just a bit sorry for myself, here!]
She snorts inelegantly.
"You're not that old and I almost never tell people to quit doin' stuff they like to do.
I don't know how anybody could set around doin' nothin!'
[Dr. K. like many college-educated people here continues to talk in the local vernacular.]
My shoulder obligingly crunches into place under pressure.
"Oh good," says Dr. K. and levers me upright.
She regales me with the encouraging story of a patient in her 80's who gardens crawling on her hands and knees.  "She is just the happiest woman, comes in here for an adjustment, tells me what-all she's got growing in her garden."
We speak briefly of the problems associated with fibromyalgia. Dr. K. admits that I might be old enough to experience a 'touch of arthritis.'
Tucking her clipboard under one arm, she delivers her exit line; "You're no way needin' to quit gardening---but you might could try to do it in moderation!'
Leaving my car in the doctor's parking lot, I walk up to the Courthouse Square to the bank.
I catch sight of myself in a plate glass window--always a bit disconcerting.
I see a woman who is obviously not young--labeling her 'middle-aged' might even be s stretch. Greying hair which swings in a braid over my left shoulder--blue denim capris, sun-browned bare legs, feet in sandals, fingernails which in spite of repeated scrubbing wear the green/brown stains of plants and garden soil.
I ponder this idea of 'moderation.'
It has begun to dawn on me this spring that it is not so much what I do, but the fact that once in the gardens I don't stop weeding, transplanting, digging, hauling dirt, until I am forced inside by J.'s need for a meal--or by nightfall, when I suddenly realize that I have my face 6 inches from the earth trying to discern just a few more weeds as darkness creeps across the landscape.

I attempted moderation this afternoon.
I made our lunch, tended a load of laundry, answered emails.
I watered the 4 pots of daylilies which I had brought home from Wal Mart--reduced price and in need of urgent release from their black plastic nursery pots.
"Tomorrow," I told myself firmly.  "Tomorrow will be time enough to plant them."
After a bit I wandered outside.
I admired the poppies in the upper perennial strip--so lovely, and their season so soon to be past.
I remembered that I intended to move 2 Stargazer lilies from in front of the porch to join the 'tree lilies' in the border.  Surely that was a moderate sort of task.
I looked at the place designated for the bargin Stella D'Oro lilies--the area near the front steps where G. and I worked last week.
A clump of flopping over-grown sedum needed to be removed to make way for the lilies.
I found J.'s big shovel and began to pry up the clump of sedum.
The dirt along the edge of the porch is inhospitable, coarse. I broke the sedum into 3 parts, heaved the plants out onto the sidewalk.
Feeling virtuous, I took a 5 minute break.
I spread a layer of packaged garden soil over the disrupted ground, gently dragged around a half bale of peat moss.  I stirred and turned, creating a nice climate for the lilies.  They were pot-bound, poor things, so I carefully teased apart their tangled roots, tucked them in place.
I hauled off my debris, swept the porch, said nice things to my rosemary seedlings, shooed Sally and Sadie out of the freshly dug-over patch.

I went inside to scrub my paws, scooped out a helping of ice cream and went back to the porch.
Dusk crept in with the whip-poor-wills tuning up across the creek.
Bobwhites called, the mockingbird mocked and the bluebirds swished through the twilight intent on capturing a bedtime snack for their young.
I trust I accomplished a moderate amount of gardening.
I don't promise I can consistently apply 'moderation'--the season carries me along.

One of the self-sown poppies--a beautiful color.

Willis has no trouble with the concept of moderation--he indulges in fits of activity alternating with languid sprawls.

Two of my favorite achillia are in bloom.

The first magnolia opened yesterday--this one on a lower branch is today's offering--waxy
white and fragrant.

This shrub, whose name I don't know, fills the air with its scent--sharp, pervasive, rather than sweet.
[I want to call it fothergilla aka witch alder--but I have my doubts.]

The newly planted area by the steps.  I may bring home yet another pot of Stella.

A clump of Stella D'Oro lillies planted last season, already spreading comfortably.
These lilies have become an urban cliche--almost ubiquitous in landscaping of public places.
Common they may be, but also readily available, economical, cheerful and sturdy--a good choice for a moderate gardener!


  1. Those yellow lilies are in a lot of places around our town. Now if I were to have to do something in moderation, I'd do it by the clock I'd give myself a moderate amount of time and when the time was up, the clock would tell me and I'd stop. I think being a teacher all my life means I do everything by the clock. When the bell rings I stop one thing and start another.

  2. Lovely new header featuring Pebbles! You've done very well in attempting moderation. Maybe the key is to plan short bursts of activities, bookended by more easygoing pursuits, and somehow a little of everything gets done. But...but...I want to do it all NOW! That is the sticking point, isn't it? Like the old cliche says - old age is not for sissies! But our tired bodies are so inclined to sissiness!

  3. Oh, my, did that ever sound familiar! I have a kindly chiropractor who never seems surprised to see me. Dr. Shull says, "Hi, Becky, what did you do now?" I'm afraid gardening is my downfall too and I never learn! We gardeners are a breed of our own and we do enjoy our malady don't we? :0

  4. Seeing the beautiful results of all your work must give you a reason to keep going, in spite of aches and pains. So beautiful.

  5. I'm all for taking Dr Willis' prescription

    " fits of activity alternating with languid sprawls."


  6. I feel your pain! There is no way to garden in moderation that I know of.

  7. Famous last words, MM. They don't usually work for a contented gardener.
    I hear the same, and like I told the doc the last time, I depend on my garden to feed me, I can't "quit", unless he wants to open up his checkbook and find me a cabana boy to help in my garden and housework! (chuckle):}
    Its hard, but we all just do it. Some days more than others.
    Have a wonderful week, and don't over do it...

  8. Gardening and moderation are two things that don't go together. Best of luck with that!

  9. Ah, the "M" word. I don't do it either. All or nothing for me and I creak to my bed afterwards. But hey ho, in winter we can't garden and then things seize up anyway!

    Your garden is looking beautiful.

  10. I've learned to garden in moderation as a few years ago I learned the hard way that if I overdo it early in the season I can end up not being able to garden at all! I go once a month to my osteopath for 'maintenance' and this keeps my dodgy back (result of a fall in my early 30s!) working pretty well so long as I don't get too carried away. A couple of hours a day pretty much gets done what needs to be done. Willis has the right idea:)