Ha! Me with a garden? Sixteen years ago my mom would never have believed it was possible. As a kid, the closest she ever saw me come to taking an interest in gardening was a set of muddy footprints down the ripened pea rows (of course there weren’t many peas left by the time she got there). Even my first year of marriage didn’t bring about any gardening instincts. It wasn’t until that special February day that I became hooked forever.
We had just bought our first house that October and the snow hit almost as soon as we moved in. It was a typical long and cold South Dakota winter. The weather would warm up and then crush your spirit with another storm. It was during one of these February warm spells that I noticed to my amazement FLOWERS! How was this possible? Sure enough, a closer inspection and some research revealed that I had crocuses. The entry into my diary (soon to be garden journal) says it all…”I have pretty flowers!” From then on I was hooked, especially after those tough little buggers came out fighting through two more snows. Then came the daffodils and tulips. By the end of May I had every garden book and catalog I could get my hands on. The rest of the year I waited in anticipation, but our yard stayed pretty nondescript. There was some bishop’s weed, a row of daylilies, and a wood vine that climbed up our retaining wall. This wouldn’t do. My goal became to have a full season of color.
My goal was a big task, especially since I had such a little garden. We lived in the mining town of Lead and our house was carved into the side of a hill. The yard was an afterthought. One side was an 8ft retaining wall up and the other was either house or a 20 ft retaining wall down. The only flower bed was one in front made from a motley assortment of stacked bricks. The flower bed and the yard consisted of more rocks and weeds than soil and plants. But I had plans! I ordered seed starter kits and my patient husband started building real flower beds.
My first couple of years was trial and error. My biggest setback was the first year I planted seeds. I babied them to perfection. I would bring them in and out daily to slowly harden them to the sun. Then the day came when I planted them. I hurried home from work, anxious about their first full day in the sun. My anxiety turned to horror when I went to their bed and saw a pile of rocks. The gas company came that day, with no warning, and put in a new line. I guess the seedlings looked like a good place to pile rocks.
To learn more about perennials I joined the Deadwood Beautification Committee. Our goal was to keep the parks of Deadwood flowering throughout the year. Those ladies taught me a lot. I learned that I didn’t just need plants, but also fertilizer, stakes, and trellises. Did I mention fertilizer? This was a difficult thing for a farm girl to BUY!
Along with my love for gardening my love for wildlife was rekindled from my childhood. Bird feeders, squirrel feeders, and hummingbird feeders all became staples to my yard. The crowning touch was when my loving husband bought me a fountain for the front. By that time I was winning awards for “Garden of the Month.” I was giving my seeds and divided perennials to other gardeners. Everything was just perfect. There weren’t any big projects left just a few minor ones. I would sit on my porch swing with a cup of coffee and just enjoy everything I accomplished.
Then we sold the house (10 years in October) and moved into my gardening friend and neighbor’s duplex across the street, while we built our dream cabin in the woods. I spent this spring peering down into what used to be my yard. Wondering if old friends were blooming and noticing old enemies, weeds, were gaining momentum. I was tending the rental’s flower beds one day when the young couple that bought the house stopped to visit. The wife commented that the garden has been a wonderful surprise, because something is always blooming. She admitted she wasn’t much of a gardener. I just smiled. Maybe she wasn’t now, but just wait you never know…