I Give Up
I'm sick of my shtick.
That whole "galloping horses will never see it" and "imperfection is part of my charm" thing is getting old. Failure is no longer funny. I want a nice garden and I want it now.
It's been a challenging summer here in Raleigh, what with blazing heat, no rain, and a grasshopper/locust/chewing-insect-from-outer-space infestation. My garden is now at a whole new level of goddawful.
The sad thing is, I was feeling pretty good about the garden (and myself, by extension) when I went to DC in June for my very first Garden Bloggers Fling. I had a great time, except for the part where my self-esteem suffered a blow from which it has not yet recovered. "Is this inspirational or depressing?" a fellow blogger asked me as we surveyed an impossibly beautiful garden. "Depressing," I said. Inspirational is when something is within the realm of possibility.
I'd really like to be a gardener, but I'm not. At best I'm a grower. In a good year, that is. And this is not a good year.
Take my front yard (please). Since deliberately smothering the grass and ripping out the boring foundation hollies three years ago, I've been trying to create something that passers-by would actually see and think "garden." No luck. I have been unable to figure out what will grow in such a fiendish exposure - north facing but with morning shade and blazing hot afternoon sun, except for the parts closest to the house, which receive no light at all. Full sun plants don't flower well, partial shade plants fry. Oh, and the soil is lousy.
The summer has been an unmitigated disaster for this pathetic patch of property. In last two months, some mysterious leaf-devouring insect has decimated my Heucheras, turtlehead, and oregano "Aureum," making hash out of my latest foray into garden design. Then, on cue, came the demise of my dwarf weeping birch. It was a nice little tree and I commend the previous homeowner for his taste in planting it. But a white barked birch in boiling hot North Carolina? What could possibly go wrong?
I could tell the tree didn't have long for this world, but since its main role was to provide shade for my Ghost and Japanese Painted Ferns - just about the only plants that had been doing well in this Summer of Death - I was hoping it would have the courtesy to hang on until cooler weather. Of course it chose to drop dead in July, when the average temperature is 95 degrees and 100 isn't unusual. Finding instant shade for the ferns was imperative, triple-digit temperatures be damned.
Bear with me, I'm almost at the punchline.
My choices stank: kill the ferns by moving them in 95 degree heat, or kill them by leaving them to fry in their now much too sunny location. I chose Door Number 3 - give them 50-50 odds by planting a 5-gallon container-grown "Tonto" crape myrtle as a replacement for the birch. I derisively dubbed it my "I Give Up" tree, final proof that I was incapable of growing anything interesting or original and was reduced to planting the most overused tree in the south. Oh how the mighty are fallen, right? But it's pretty, fast-growing, practically indestructible and it adores the heat. At this stage I'll take it.
So last Saturday, I plopped Tonto into the hole lately occupied by the weeping birch. Then I prayed.
Today, as I write this, we are enjoying our fourth straight day of 95 degree-plus weather, with no end in sight. And guess what? Tonto objects.
I give up. I really, really, really give up.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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