The azaleas are beginning to bloom in our front flower bed, but you can barely see them thanks to the unyielding efforts of the impatiens that are still holding their own from early spring. The majority of the impatiens are a deep magenta, with a few coral and white buds resurfacing from last year’s batch. They are so large and beautiful that they almost look like brightly polka-dotted bushes.
In fact, I’ve taken such care with the impatiens, that their fullness is actually a little overstated and it’s obvious that I let the miracle grow flow as freely as the rain did this summer. They almost seem unnatural. But I continue to get compliments on the front bed and I have resisted the urge to plant my fall pansies which should last throughout the winter.
Similarly, thanks to the sole efforts of my husband, the grass in the front is as lovely as the ruff at Augusta. To the swelling pride of us both, we even had a neighbor remark that he would love to take a chipping wedge to our front yard.
And now to the back yard. 18 months ago, our back yard was in okay shape, but never being happy with good-enough, I decided that it needed an artistic touch. I bought a climbing mandavilla which was planted in a big pot and let it stretch its way across my deck. The mandavilla is a tropical flower and something that I had never grown before, but with the heat and a little water, it began to grow and bloom. I helped it spread out by tying some of the vines to the deck posts, guiding its path here and there. Aside from the bird’s nest that was being rebuilt by a mama robin for her spring babies under the overhang of the roof, the mandavilla was the shining star of the back yard.
The grass was also in okay shape– save one persnickety little spot that just wouldn’t grow any grass. We fertilized, we watered, we even had a professional lawn service take a look at it. Finally, surrendering to the mystery of horticulture and not having the patience for this inconvenience, we decided to see if the health of the rest of the yard would soon overtake the brown patch. With a little patience and perseverance, we thought we’d have something as beautiful as Amen Corner in our back yard, too.
But as much as my impatiens flourished and spread in the front, the grass began to die with equal tenacity in the back. And the more it died, the less I tried to fix it. And truth be told, I never really tried to fix it, I just complained about it to my husband. I complained that we weren’t getting our money’s worth from our professional lawn service, I complained that it was ugly, I even quit picking the weeds that grew despite the lack of grass. And then, I let my mandavilla die. To punctuate the backyard’s decay, I left the skeleton of the mandavilla tied to the deck for months.
It surprises me that the problems we’re having in the back haven’t surfaced in the front. But in truth, I have sure spent more time and effort on the front. The only hint of my inadequacy as a gardener, ironically, is the impressive size and success of the impatiens. Like I said, they look almost too big, unnatural, artificial. And their lack of authenticity is beginning to overshadow and stunt the growth of the beautiful azaleas. Pretty soon, Tiger Lilies will begin to bloom in full force. Something I’ve been worried about for a long time.
So starting October 1st, it will be time for some pruning of the front. Actually, it will be time for a slash and burn. It won’t be pretty at first, but I hope what will result will be even more beautiful than the impatiens. And more importantly, it is time for some real attention to the back. And I’m making the time. The back yard is not glamorous, people won’t compliment me for it, but I know I need to do all of this to maintain a healthy yard, both inside and out.
I’m pretty sure that the Tiger Lilies were just beginning to reach the surface in the front, despite my miracally-grown impatiens. But I’ve made up my mind. I’m not going to let that happen.
I am a good gardener. I know it. And honestly, this is way more about me than the yard.
Special thanks to my mother and my husband for helping with all of it, and for helping with all that lies ahead. On to greener pastures. Literally.