The smallest details

It’s mid June and it feels like The Blasted Lands. Standing in the shade, there was a slight breeze and it felt lovely but step out into the sun and it felt like you were in the piercing beam of a magnifying glass. I am determined to garden. It may be my control freak disguised as a do-gooder. Sure, I want to create habitat and draw in wildlife and pollinators and biodiversity but ultimately, gardening is a finessed balancing act between control and abandonment.

Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic (March 13th to be exact), I started a strip of cultivation in the back yard. I called it The Bee Strip. I had tried this before and failed (abandonment). But, facing a global pandemic – that in March 2020 was a completely unknown entity – I needed to exert control over something.

There had been a strip in the past but it fell to neglect. I was determined to rehabilitate it. I did it all by hand, on my knees, one meter at a time. It was filled with coreopsis that I divided and moved about. I added sunflowers and salvias and milkweed. And then the pandemic got bad. Work got bad. Life got simultaneously slow and frenetic. And toiling in the garden helped.

If I was writing a gardening book, if would be title Gardening by Benign Neglect. I want to plant something and then walk away, let it proceed and progress but not need much attention or maintenance. A better title would be Wishful Thinking Gardening. Every living thing requires attention and attendance. This spring, two full years from the original reclamation, I had to do it again. By hand, with my new Sneeboer & Zn imported gardening tools, I defined and replanted the Bee Strip.

I will keep adding to it. And the gomphrena with its vibrant pink puff balls are distracting. It’s easy to miss the minuscule yellow funnels coned up in each petal. But the bees and the other pollinators adore it. That makes all the work worth it.

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