Never promised you a (hosta) garden

There are a lot of Things in our yard.

Green things. Purple things. Weed-like things. Bushes, shrubs, flowering things.

I’ve never had a garden. I’ve never had my own yard. I lived at home until I was 28, and the collective idea of yard work was waking up to the hum of my dad’s lawn mower on Saturday mornings and occasionally ridding a small flower bed of its weeds in the spring. I remember planting impatiens with my mom as a kid, but my interest — and help! — was minimal. Very minimal.

We raked leaves in the fall and blew dandelions in summer, sure, but there wasn’t really work to do out there. My sister and I splashed in a kiddie pool, took friends to swing on our wooden bench and played with dogs in the backyard, but it was — to me — a maintenance-free space. One I took entirely for granted.

Now that we’re responsible for a hunk of the outdoors on our “property” (man, that feels fancy!), I’m learning the care and keeping of a yard is time-consuming. And I have no earthly idea what I’m doing. Since I cower from mosquitoes and bees and generally anything categorized as “creepy-crawly,” my preference isn’t to spend much time out there . . . but we have a big front yard facing our street, and people see our house.

We’re still the new kids on the block — and I can’t get lazy this quickly.

Spence and I haven’t officially selected chores yet, but I’ve naturally fallen into the role of flower-bed-keeper because he cuts the grass, chops down poison ivy (and gets poison ivy . . .) and saws through fallen logs while I have trimmed hedges and pushed hair out of my face. So I guess we’re even? (Kidding.)

I’ve unofficially taken over the task of weeding the rock gardens near our front porch because they’re chaotic and ugly, and it seems relatively simple to solve.

I mean, if you don’t mind sweating.

When my mother- and father-in-law were here to help us move in late June, they kindly tackled our grown-over flower beds before returning home. We had straight-up trees (!) growing near the shrubs, and the weed situation was pretty horrific. Basically, it was a strip of weeds in front of the house — weeds that were choking all the “good” plants that had started to appear in spring, and something had to be done about it.

I did a little maintenance a few weeks ago — the first time the yard needed work since that late-June purge. The shrubs were hacked to nubs back when we first went to see the house in March, and we worried they were all dead . . . but they sprang to life as soon as the snow thawed, and they’ve been growing strong ever since.

It looked like this in winter:

Dead yard

And then, left untended, it looked like this:

And then, with some cursing and sweating, it transformed into this:

. . . For now, anyway!

We have hostas, as you see — a plant I couldn’t have picked out to save my life, but visitors have all exclaimed, “Oh, you have hostas!” And now said hostas have really tall, really weird purple flowers sprouting out of them? And hopefully this is normal?

I’m learning.

I’d like to say I’m making progress toward my green thumb, but that would require me actively caring for a plant . . . as it stands, I merely hack out what I don’t want growing here and hope for the best.

Come spring, I have great ambitions of contracting our yard out to a friend’s wise daughter and actually making some executive decisions about what to do with the ample outdoor space we have languishing here.


For now, I pull weeds from the roots, avoid bugs and wave to Spencer on the lawn mower.

A plan that works for everyone.

A secret garden

Secret Garden

Despite being someone who screams in the presence of bugs (I’m working on that, I swear), something about nature still calls to me. I love gardens, brooks and streams; love walks in the woods and the quiet, the calm.

When I’m wandering a stone path, I can’t help but pretend I’m Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden — searching, restored and healed by nature. I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic as a kid and loved the 1993 film just as much.

Though I have no idea how to go about it, I’m looking forward to planting our new yard. We have a flower box already with green shoots pushing upward; I have no clue what they are, but they look like bulbs. Potential flowers, hopefully. And the front yard? Around the stone path leading to the front door, the remnants of old beds still shift hopefully. Things are growing. Life is still forming.

I’ve never gardened. I shouldn’t feel so clueless and awkward asking for help, but I always do. And when a friend visited the new house last weekend, she immediately reached down to carefully pluck a spring of poison ivy from near the garage.

Poison ivy. Be still my terrified heart!

It’s fun to imagine learning, though. Though we’re more concerned with what’s happening in the house than out (short of cutting that grass) for a while, I’ve always wanted to cultivate a green thumb. I’d love to have an herb garden and window box filled with happy flowers. I’d love to see pops of color whenever we open our door.

Since we have to start where we are, I have to admit to knowing nothing about creating my own secret garden . . . beyond the fact that I’d like to. Eventually.

It’s exciting: the not-knowing. There’s excitement trusting I’ll learn.