"Might I," quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?..."To plant seeds in--to make things grow--to see them come alive," Mary Lennox, The Secret Garden

24 June 2012

Weeding Life

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them-
 A. A. Milne, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh

Bella Foster for Kate Spade
But make no mistake: the weeds will win: nature bats last.- Robert M. Pyle

The Gardens at Camp MoneyPit did not exist 6 years ago. There was literally nothing to salvage, nothing to "grow" from or keep. For a small caretaker's cottage that took over 18 months to breath life into you cannot imagine the panic that set in every time I started contemplating the landscape. Camp MP has no less than 7 different areas surrounding it , each with its own challenges...I of course chose to take them on all at once! making me long at times for my old lovely rooftop garden filled with overflowing containers and window boxes.  My flaw as a gardener, as in my life, is that I want to make everything right, make it better, make it beautiful and make it into what it can and should be...I do that with people too-they don't always respond as well as the hydrangeas!

So it should be no surprise that my need to control and keep everything blooming beautifully does not really leave a lot of tolerance for weeds! Gardening for me has become the corner of my life that insists on teaching me...my gardens have a stubborn student! The gardens are determined to show me that I may hold the trowel, I may dig and amend, and plant and water, and nurture and hover, and... but I am not in charge, nor do I determine the success. I am just a "player" in this ever changing "landscape". 

Every gardener will tell you that patience is perhaps the gardener's best tool. I am not the most patient...I want the "result", I want my vision realized-NOW, please! Taking on the gardens of CMP has shown me that there are small yet great victories if you wait and watch and let it happen-a Clematis, given up for lost, coming into spring with strength and showers of blooms is one reward for a lesson learned, as is a climbing hydrangea that slept then crept and now has leaped to grace the stone of the house.

It was a surprise to discover that the soil at Camp MP is good in most spots, unless you hit one of the old stone walls buried beneath. Most of the "new" residents seem happy to be here, but so do the weeds...the weeds absolutely adore it here, and they are determined to take up permanent residence-I should have them chip in for the mortgage payments!

Most days I actually do not mind weeding. True, one of life's most thankless tasks..or is it? Yanking, tugging, pulling unwelcome intruders out of the ground can actually work wonders after a long week. The weeds at Camp MP,however, are on a mission. They are determined to win, to take over, to pop up at will from the weed cloth and mulch. They arrive and start crawling about as if they were in charge...not so fast fellas, remember I am the Controlling Gardener! 

This weekend I spent about  hours weeding- filling three trash bins and ruining a pair of gloves. I woke up this morning, slipped on my garden sneaks, picked up the hose to water the new roses and Hello!- WEEDS!!! You know what, tomorrow there will be weeds, and the next day and certainly all summer til the frost of October I will have weeds. I will pick and pluck and pull every Saturday morning-maintenance yanking-but they will come back more determined each time to "show me". Just like in life, things grow and pop up where you don't want them...they certainly do in my world.

I have made my peace with some weeds. If you look like a pretty groundcover, if you have a delicate white flower, you might be able to hang around til you become unruly. If you are a dandelion, or your first name is "Crab" you are out of here-NOW!

The weeds at camp MP have taught me that I cannot control what grows overnight. I cannot totally stop "ugly" from happening anymore than I can stop unwelcome or sad for that matter. Yup, weeds happen! The gardens are lecturing ..."Accept that, adapt and work with what you can...make the best out of it, even learn to live with some of it."

So sure, I will continue to pull and yank the ones I can grasp, but for those that I simply cannot get to budge I will have to accept them, welcome them and make them a part of the garden til I can take a shovel and give one big tug...then I will plant hydrangeas and roses in their place to show them how Life s really done. The weeds of my garden, and my life, may crop up another day in another spot but I'll have a peony ready to put them in their place!
Gems from the Wild Garden (1888), postcard from the Rawson Company catalog. via

10 October 2010

First They Sleep...

Fall is settling into the gardens of Camp MoneyPit and it is welcome.  As for many gardeners the Summer of 2010 was a frustrating one...starting with early warm weather that forced everyone up and out...
 then drowning rains which the hydrangeas seemed to  like a lot...
Then came the blazing heat  burning the edges and frying the roots ...and everything called it quits!...but for the climbing hydrangeas THIS was their year!

 With lots of stone walls to latch onto and climb upon Camp MP is the perfect spot for Climbing Hydrangeas...and apparently they love it here!  I have planted them along stone walls, up the corners and sides of the house, up the driveway fence...and the old adage about Climbing Hydrangeas is true--First year they sleep, next year they creep...third year they leap!!!

11 July 2010

In a Child's Garden

All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse,
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.  Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames--
These must all be fairy names!  Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!  Fair are grown-up people's trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.

In so many ways all gardens are a miracle and a gift...but the gardens of Maine never cease to astonish me.  To survive the crazy often cruel New England coastal winters only to slowly burst forth a lot later than most gardens do, the gardens of the Maine Coast in Summer are a wonder!  Wherever you look the colors pour from beds and boxes and planters, happy as I am to spend a summer's day in Maine.

This week on a sweltering morning (it was over 100 even in Maine!) I wandered through the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in hopes of catching a sneak peek of the Gardens' newest and very anticipated addition -The Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden.  The Children's Garden was set for its Grand Opening on Thursday but I was able to catch some glimpses as the many final touches were being painted,planted and primped.  The two acre garden is breathtaking, a joy for every age! For someone who adores both magical gardens and storybooks I quickly found myself climbing over the construction tape to get a closer look!

The Children's  Fardens are a celebration of discovery and every inch reveals a new adventure, places to play,explore and learn about the wonders of nature. There is a Tree House to climb, a 28ft tall Windmill complete with weather instruments,a spouting whale fountain, a crooked house, a boat to board and lobster traps to toss on the Blueberry Ponds, an archway made of garden tools and giant watering cans that lead to the Learning Garden where veggies grow, a Maze to conquer,and a Storybook Keeper's Cottage and Story Barn complete with a Giant Storyteller's Chair where imagination lives and reads!!

 In fact, the themes for the garden center on the story telling of Maine's famous children's authors. There is the Lupine Meadow where a topiary version of Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius and her cat can be found.

 The Blueberry Pond and  Islands bring memories of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal and Sal's Bear friend lives there welcoming visitors to climb on his back

Sal's Bear has become the "mascot" for the gardens and the docks on the Blueberry Ponds feature Burt Dow, Deep Water Man's boat to jump into. In celebration of the opening of the Children's Gardens the Visitor's Center of the CMBG has a  special exhibit of Robert McCloskey's drawings, storyboards and notes from a number of his books. Not to be missed!!

I cannot wait to return and watch these very special gardens grow!  For more information on the Maine Botanical Gardens and the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden along with the special events and programs available  visit Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and for a great Behind the Scenes look at the planning and construction of this enchanting spot be sure to read Dig It! The Garden's Blog.

...If you have never read some of the stories that are celebrated in the Children's Garden, or if you are like me and love to revisit them..here are some to treasure...

Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man : A Tale of the Sea in Classic TraditionBlueberries for Sal (Viking Kestrel picture books)Miss RumphiusOne Morning in Maine (Picture Puffin)

Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast

She started a little garden among the rocks that surrounded her house, and she planted a few flower seeds in the stony ground. Miss Rumphius was ‘almost’ perfectly happy. “But there is still one more thing I have to do,” she said. “I have to make the world more beautiful...“All that summer Miss Rumphius, her pockets full of seeds, wandered over fields and headlands, sowing lupine seeds. She scattered seeds along the highways and down the country lanes. She flung handfuls of them around the schoolhouse and the back of the church. She tossed them into hollows and along stone walls…The next spring there were lupines everywhere. Fields and hillsides were covered with blue and purple and rose-colored flowers. They bloomed along the highways and down the lanes. Bright patches lay around the schoolhouse and back of the church. Down in the hollows and along the stone walls grew beautiful flowers. Miss Rumphius had done the third most difficult thing of all![She had made the world the world more beautiful.]

11 October 2009

The Gardens of Camp MP Bid Summer 2009 Adieu

Yes, fall is coming and the frostbite pansies and kale are settling in but some folks in the Gardens of Camp MP are not quite ready to give way to the falling leaves and frosty days--one last splash before bedtime!

13 July 2009

Happy Happy Hydrangeas! The Gift the Rains Left

If I could only plant one thing in my gardens it would be hydrangeas, hydrangeas, hydrangeas, and more hydrangeas!

When I first started to plan the gardens at Camp Moneypit I knew for sure that every bed and spot would have hydrangeas at the center. I planted countless plants in all varieties, I even rescued some from the trash bin and popped them into the ground. There are hydrangeas that started life as houseplants, centerpieces, baby roots and even hydrangeas that were bought as sources of comfort after losses in my life. Almost all have made it through New England winters and gone on to thrive...but in my wildest imagination I could never envision a season like this...hydrangeas everywhere! HUGE mounds and mounds of color.

If you are starting your gardens or just want to add on play with hydrangeas. I love all kinds-lacecap to Pee Gee Trees but I would suggest starting with Endless Summer This is a relatively new variety that will in fact bloom from spring to frost-I have had hydrangeas as late as Thanksgiving from my Endless Summer. There is no real trick to growing any variety. Hydrangeas love moist cool spots but they will tolerate direct sun---just be sure to give the lots to drink in their first year, once established they do just fine in the sun. Color is determined by acidity in the soil but they always surprise me with the shades they form. Even the plants that were once white can change their tune the next season. Whatever their mood hydrangeas will improve yours---

Quite simply hydrangeas are Happy!

The Earth Laughs in Flowers- Ralph Waldo Emerson