I had thought to hire someone to help with landscaping chores next year. Will I be able to find someone? The going rate is double minimum wage (more than 15.00 an hour). If I find someone, how much help can I afford?
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” ~ Henri Matisse
When in California a few years ago, I had been walking in a nature preserve on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. By chance, some unknown person left this pretty handtied bouquet of flowers in the dirt path. It was so delightful, an unforeseen gift . I took a photo and left it as it had been found.
It is a fact of life. Like weeds. You don’t even notice how it creeps up on you, but suddenly it is there and it must be dealt with:
Two things begat this post, the fact that the heat has forced me to stay indoors and updating a post that had very good advice for older gardeners.
Advice that I must now seriously take for myself.
The heat advisories would have been laughed at and lightly dismissed in my younger years as a gardener. Today I did not even venture out in the morning because yesterday’s piddling work was too much and I don’t want to repeat the experience.
Yes, I had to recover from watering my containers in the high humidity and 90 degree temps that feel like triple digits.
Weeding and tending the vegetable garden will have to wait for more reasonable temperatures.
I hate the idea of giving up my large yard and dreams of flower gardens, but reality is that something MUST change. It doesn’t help my state of mind that I saw the movie, ‘Iris‘, starring Judy Dench. It drove home the fact that aging people too often procrastinate necessary changes to their living.
Even when health problems or losses don’t necessitate such changes, other circumstances often do.
A List Of Garden Changes
Things I see that must change:
I need more help- hired help must be found next year. For the first time in my life I think I will need to engage someone to occasionally do some of the chores.
Spring is more a time to pay attention to pruning than planting. A mature garden looks unkempt if bushes are growing will-nilly.
A more permanent solution to the fieldstone walk. Polymeric sand for the cracks between the stones.
Redesign garden space near the house.
Lots of other things that I will need to brainstorm this winter.
Are you planning for the day when the garden demands more than you might be willing to give it? Has aging interfered with how you dreamed your garden would look?
What’s going on in your stage of life and how does that affect the way you plan to landscape?
I could use more time enjoying my garden, and I have an inkling that is true for most of us that love a garden. Modern life has a way of pushing in with what seems like a long list of urgent, yet trivial, demands that eat up the day… and sometimes grab part of the night.
My use of garden blogs has changed from leisure entertainment of surfing and getting to know individual bloggers to sorting through an inundation of clamor: “READ ME!”. I often add to the clamor, and it seems unavoidable.
And so, what do I wish to find and what do I wish to add that will gain me more time well used, reading and otherwise enjoying -rather than rushing to get done- in the garden?
The Museum Visit
Part of it is rather like my visit to a museum.
When I go to museums, and here let me say it is one of my favorite things to do, I do not want -nor expect- to see everything there is on a topic. I don’t even want to see everything there is in the Museum’s collection. I wish to see an exhibition that brings meaning and greater appreciation of the objects at hand.
The word for that is “curation”; collecting and exhibiting what has greatest value for some reason. Sometimes it is representative, sometimes “best of”… sometimes just curiosities.
If you blog, immediately you think of a major service that blogs can serve: curating information and delivering an idea of quality in a topic that interests a reader.
In any topic, gardening included, there are areas of the internet that have cornered the high ground on types of curation. Like reviews.
An individual can offer their opinion, but Amazon’s site can offer many opinions and a number of ways to rate a product. If I want more time in my garden, which will I seek out first?
There are two ways to approach time on the internet, including garden blog reading:
Looking at the novel and highly entertaining
Looking at a well done exhibition
Those two things both need to inform me, if my time is to be well spent.
Youtube Eureka Moment
My son recently was writing an essay that hinged upon the idea of a “Eureka Moment”. That is probably what helped inspire this post. This week while looking through a large number of videos on a certain topic, I realized something. Many of them were a waste of my time. A few were gems.
And that Eureka moment, as obvious and perhaps thick as it might seem to some, made me realize that a garden blog can be very useful if it curates, in museum quality manner. It can be more than simply a provider of information on technique or design, or plant cultivation.
In a way it isn’t news, but in another way it helps me focus on what I want, both from a garden blog and to give in mine.
Gardening Isn’t Trendy
Well, maybe it is for you. For me, gardening isn’t like fashion, where my garden looks “dated”. It might, but so what if it gives me joy? It really is no social crime to have garden gnomes dotted about or a pink flamingo… or even a bed of exotic plants rather than natives.
Gardening can make room for a wide range of personal taste.
On the other hand, the internet is about nothing if it isn’t about trends at this point. Who just surfs, anymore? Do people even use that word in connection with their online time, now? Not me. The change in blogs helped to contribute to that, and those new habits changed blogs, in turn. entertainment is usually provided by a lot of writers contributing a lot of stuff to look at… or we go to Facebook.
But what I am finding more useful for garden blogs is the same thing I used to want in a magazine or that I still look for in a book. Knowledgable curation, aesthetic presentation, inspiring focus… and then I want to get on with enjoying my garden.
Should Gardening Be Politicized? A Bit Of An Aside
Speaking of trends…
There is room for raising consciousness about gardening issues. We can’t escape that, nor should we. But I have been in the company of political radicals enough to recognize when I find a garden issue zealot. I don’t criticize them, but I am also unready to jump on every bandwagon that goes by. Ilona the Unready, there you go. I have a title.
I am rather a reasoned gardener, and that is what I will promote in my opinion. I believe the earth benefits from that.
Do I Make The Cut By My Own Criteria?
That is what I must judge my blog, website, and social media input by today. I was always suspicious of the adage, “to thine own self be true”, but this is a time when it is à propos.
That doesn’t mean I will stop creating and only curate, but if I find myself needing to curate, I’ll pass on the results to friends of my garden writing.
Recently, I put together pages around one of my favorite plants: Lavender. I have nurtured and cajoled my “Lavender hedge” and even had to totally replace it one year. The resulting pages of Lavender info and reporting on my experience creates posts far flung in time.
I hope that as I gather together guideposts you will enjoy the curations… or at least tolerate if that is not your cup of tea.
Are you growing herbs or planning to? You might need a little guide to find all my written articles on the topic. (I have over 1000 posts here, and it is high time to organize it for ease in finding just the ones you need, quickly).
Lavender has been one of my favorites from very early in my gardening career. It became a feature in my garden once I made the Lavender hedge to line the fieldstone walk. How to Grow Lavender
I no longer have a special herb garden, but incorporate herbs throughout the different planting beds. Sage, hyssop, and thyme find a place beside the back walk. Within the vegetable gardens is where I grow most of my herbs today. 10 Reasons To Love Herbs
On “big ticket” items like swimming pools or hot tubs, is the price really too big? If it interferes with your ability to pay the mortgage, yes, but what if it is something that you could afford if you saved for it, or if you could see its benefits?
Both swimming pools and hot tubs … and other such features can come under this heading. For me, a hot tub has repaid itself many times in the benefits it has given when it comes to helping mobility and recovery after stiff joints and muscles were a problem.
Be sure to factor in more than simply the price of an item when deciding whether it is a priority for you.
Not everyone can afford to fully landscape their yard all at once, just as they don’t furnish a home’s interior instantly, either. Set up a plan that includes the important features of your yard and outdoor landscape, create a budget and a plan to put in those important to you and your family.
Create An Installation Schedule To Keep Costs Under Control
Make a garden plan
Include the path materials, furniture such as seating or ornaments
Create a schedule of installation
If you have children, include their needs: a swingset, playhouse, or sandbox?
Make your yard a place for fun and relaxation as well as tasks.
Use budget plans just as you would for other expenditures- don’t leave your yard last on the list.
Included in your plan are various pieces of garden furnishings, depending on which portions of the landscaping on next on the list.
Graceful garden seating made of cast aluminum gives a timeless inviting look to your yard. More than a hundred customer’s reviewed it with high marks and satisfaction.
A bench like this looks wonderful with Victorian style homes, many traditional styles of farmhouses to townhouses.
Take Seat, Enjoy The View
Of all the advice I’ve tested and given, the importance of having seating in the garden is the best tip in all my garden furniture opinions. I’d say a well made bench is mandatory for enjoying the true pleasure of a garden. Whether it is to enjoy the views, or take a well earned rest from accomplishing the chores, a chair or bench is most welcome.
Surprising in the many styles and materials available, I think that benches, especially in the “Adirondack” or classic “Park Bench” styles give the greatest satisfaction. They are roomy, sturdy, and have good looks, so that the seat actually performs as a great focal point of design as well.
The Adirondack style is American traditional seating which makes me think of vacations in the mountains or relaxing beside the beach. it is just as famously relaxing and comfortable in a backyard, among the perennial borders. So popular they come in a number of colors in both wood and resin materials.
A bench at the end of a pathway, or situated under a the arching branches of an ornamental tree or tall fragrant shrub, these are delightful perches to watch the birds and butterflies while taking a breather or enjoying a morning cup of coffee.
LUTYENS STYLE BENCH
Lutyens Designed This Graceful Garden Seat
Achla Designs Lutyens 4-Foot Bench, Black
The Lutyens Bench was a design that adorned gardens designed by the great partnership of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens. This graceful piece of garden furniture features scrolling lines that meld most harmoniously with the curves and clouds of an English style garden.
It is modern enough for contemporary architecture, but traditional enough for any classically designed home.
The point is, if one cannot sit and enjoy the garden it seems much of the reason of having one is lost. Striking a balance between work and repose is part of a healthy lifestyle. There is a lot more to that old adage of “Taking time to smell the roses” than simply a tired repeating of something one has heard in conversation.
A garden bench is a necessity for inviting one to smell the roses, listen to the birdsong, and recreate ones heart and mind.
Where Are The Table and Chairs?
What did I leave out of my personal list? An outdoor eating area, like a patio table and chairs, with a table umbrella, is one popular set of garden furnishings.
Although we have them, our family hasn’t used them in recent years. Recently, we greatly increased eating alfresco during the outdoor season.
Our setup consists of :
An oval umbrella table, which we bought on sale
Umbrella of good quality purchased at Sam’s Club
4 inexpensive outdoor plastic chairs
A “Char-Griller” charcoal burning grill.
One of the things that makes out large deck space comfortable is the addition of large citronella candles and a couple oil burning torches. These repel mosquitoes.
My son has those electric “zappers”, and they do a very good job.
Create A Gathering Niche
Using your outdoor furnishings combine both choosing them and setting up the space for maximum enjoyment.
Bring Hospitality Into Your Backyard
Using tables and chairs makes an instant invitation to social gatherings around al fresco repasts.
A PRIVATE SEATING NOOK
I have had a plan for a small cafe table and two chairs to tuck away in a sheltered corner of the yard. It would be a private place for morning coffee, reading, dreaming or just a nice place to chat with a visiting friend.
Outdoor Furniture You Might Consider Necessary
Seating: a bench
Seating: Adirondack chairs
Features: a firepit
Features: a hot tub
Accessories: bird baths,feeders
A Firepit Extends The Season
Years ago, I remember seeing the addition of a firepit space in garden plans and just didn’t see the attraction of it. After all we would grill food on our Hibachi, occasionally burn leaves and have a small bonfire out in the fields, why would we need a fire pit?
Little did I realize how wrong I was. Not until visiting my son and enjoying the evening conversation around his firepit with some comfortable outdoor chairs, did I understand how cozy it was and how much fun the combo of a fire, friends and the outdoors could really be.
So what did my husband and I do as soon as we returned home? Yes, we bought a fire pit, and set it up immediately- I mean right away before even building the paved space for it. We absolutely loved it, and have had many enjoyable family conversations around our new fire pit.
We did find that there is enough heat underneath to merit a fireproof paving pad to set the fire bowl on (we decided on inexpensive patio pavers). It was just a matter of an afternoon to completely construct a great gathering spot for our family and friends.
Now, I would put such a garden furnishing top on the list. We use garden chairs, but I’ve also seen these areas constructed with surrounding benches. Seating is an important part of the firepit area, but it doesn’t have to be expensive at all…unless you want it to be!
This is one of those projects that can cost anywhere from Zero dollars to Thousands. It just depends on what level of expenditure you can make, or are willing to make. We chose a fairly inexpensive portable manufactured firepit . There are gas-fired models that require major construction costs to install…. and many different choices in between. The only thing that I advise is that you have one -if you think you will enjoy conversations sitting around a nice warm, crackling fire, enjoying a warm mug of your favorite drink in the evening air of the outdoors.
For some, their grill is a mainstay, with an entire kitchen and dining in a patio area. If this is you, those table and chairs might be top of the list for making the yard meet the ideal you have in mind.
A picnic table, with its incorporated benches serves as an all purpose eating, gathering, or resting station. For me, it also doubled as a handy workbench. Consider what works best for you and your dream of a yard. Make your list and create a welcoming and useful outside space in your garden.
enjoying the view
inexpensive to moderate
sunning and relaxing
inexpensive to moderate
focal point and seating
moderate to somewhat expensive
gathering and relaxing
inexpensive to very expensive
gathering and relaxing
moderate to expensive
enjoying the view
inexpensive to moderate
gathering and eating alfresco
moderate to expensive
These are just a few of the possible furnishings for a garden, but the ones I think are most valuable.
Hot Times In The Great Outdoors
HOT TUB THERAPY
Last but not least in my list of essentials for garden pleasure, or just feeling good during almost any time of the year is the Hot Tub.
At the time we purchased it, it seemed an almost unconscionable expense for our middle class budget, but we had friends that had sung the praises of theirs and that convinced us. We went shopping for a hot tub.
While we do use it for family times together on occasion, it hasn’t worked out as much for that use as for a great way to soak away aches and pains of overworked joints and muscles. It is very therapeutic for that! And a great way to enjoy the outdoors during a snowfall, too.
I put this garden addition quite high on a list of priorities, if a person has the space for it in the yard, the budget, and think they would enjoy quietly soaking in a lot of hot water!
A FEW TIPS
Buy from a reputable dealer who will offer service.
Research and get the best brand that you can afford.
Keep everything clean- use a few rules about use of the hot tub: keep suits free from laundry detergent ( suds!); shower before using; limit alcohol use.
Change water and filter as recommended; use the necessary chemicals according to directions.
Yard Furniture: Seating
Garden Furniture Cost Factors
Like many garden projects, adding furnishings to your home landscape can range from practically zero to “the sky is the limit” in cost. Have a tight budget? Consider a few handy ideas for cutting costs.
Do it yourself. If you have skills, this is a major cost cutter. Buying plans and raw materials to build a playhouse, a picnic table, or a firepit (as a few examples) can make your plans affordable.
Repurpose and buy used. Whether making a new project from something old or buying what you want from a garage sale- the trash to treasure path makes garden furnishing not just economical, but environmentally wise, too.
Have really big plans, and want some outdoor luxury? Create a plan and installation schedule; research your choices.
What if you could see which shrubs and trees grow well in your landscape? Or learn of plants mature sizes without waiting for years? An Arboretum can show and tell.
What Is An Arboretum?
An Arboretum is a place where trees are grown, but not only trees. Many are places to find shrubs, perennials, and wildflowers – many plants that you may wish to have in your garden. It is mostly a showcase for woody plants, however.
Purposes for Arboretums are not simply as places where there is a collection of interesting and beautiful plants are grown, although they are that;. The purpose for these landscapes is to gain scientific strides in horticulture, with education of the public in mind.
Arboretums are grown with an educational mission. To help visitors become familiar with the kinds of plantings that are grown within the collection, to learn how to combine plantings, to aid with conservation. One expert calls such a place a “Museum of trees”.
How will that well praised tree of the garden center look after twenty years? Will it need to be moved or cut down? How about the shrubs you planned to put at the front of the house? Will your planting spaces prove too crowded in just a couple years? Arboretums provide a visual answer.
These are also places that explain the uses of plantings, important growing information is offered, even discovered. They are a place where endangered botanicals can be protected, propagated. Where one can learn of the possibilities of a landscape.
FREE BOTANY EDUCATION
A place to see rare trees
Learn the proper names of the woody plantings
Learn about conservation
Ornamental Trees for Your Garden
Dogwood trees bloom in spring. They are ornamental trees with graceful branching structure
How Does Plant Knowledge Save Money?
On of the best investments in improving your home is spent on the outside, creating an attractive yard. Many people either neglect that fact, or hire someone to do all the planning and work for them -or they move into a home where the choices have been made. But learning a bit about the plants that will work best to form a useful and pleasing garden area will enable you to work with a professional more efficiently, or maintain valuable landscaping.
An Arboretum is the place to go to find new, improved landscape selections, or how to care for older ones. One you have your yard’s plan in hand, a visit gives a first hand look at the actual plants ( quite different from a simple description or blobs on graph paper).
There are ideas for gardens and an array of many different cultivars, all arranged so they may be seen growing in a real garden where their attributes are best displayed.
A crabapple walk at Dawes Arboretum was one of those. Many people think of planting crabapple trees, especially when they see the gorgeous spring bloom. But how do you pick the one for you, of the hundreds of choices? How do you know that you would like one beside your own driveway? Seeing which have tiny fruits (that are almost no nuisance at all), and which ones have fat squishy fruits that are great for jellies, (but not so wonderful when dropped on the walk to the house) can make the choice for you.
Such illustrations save costly mistakes, and help with the best landscape choices for shading, protecting, and complementing a home.
Walking Through Dawes Arboretum Evergreen Glen
Know How, Isn’t That What I Pay A Professional For?
WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MY LANDSCAPING?
You do pay an expert for their knowledge and help. The best professionals will consult with the client’s opinions, goals, and desires, however. Even if leaving the yard to others, the initial choices and continued oversight will benefit from knowing the facts. You help them to help you, in other words.
Besides, a place where the facts of plants are pleasantly presented in glades, dells, and flower gardens is probably the most enjoyable way you will ever experience in getting an horticulture education!
HOW TO GAIN FROM YOUR VISIT:
Explore, take a walking or driving tour and get around the place to see what is growing there.
Take advantage of educational opportunities, there are often special events, lectures, plant sales.
Take notes. If you see a shrub or tree you like, write down the name, they are labeled.
Find out how trees and shrubs can save energy by cooling or protecting the home, buffering winds, or provide privacy. Get information and ideas about how the plants are used in the landscape.
One thing I have learned about growing things is the huge difference between reading and hearing about plants and gardens and the actual experience of them. This is what an Arboretum provides: an up close, in person learning experience with growing trees and other woody plants in a way that incorporates the health of the plant and environment and creating a beautiful place.
Latin Name Labels
All the plantings are labeled. Take notes with your phone!
How many spruces are there?
Rare evergreen shrubs are interesting. Some may be ordered through specialist catalogs
Dawes is a place I visit regularly. The pictures in this article come from those visits at different times of year, although spring and fall are my favorites.
My soil conditions may be different, but just as I found invaluable information that led me to plant shrubs and trees which were later found on sale in the nurseries, you can too. I had seen the specimens growing at the Arboretum, and knew them to survive our winters. I could see the space they occupied before putting the shrubs into places that would require constant pruning. And it was all for free.
This place has always been a top day trip for my family through the years.
For young children, it is not only a day out in nature, but their children’s discovery are in the visitors building is full of interesting activities, books and things to see.
For us as homeowners, it was a chance to see what particular trees and varieties look like, stroll through gardens that had great design ideas, enjoy beauty of the Japanese garden ( even if I had no intention of attempting to create one of my own).
For the elderly, the drive thru tour saves energy and one’s legs while affording the wonder of the park setting and the beautiful grounds.
If I had not seen the Northernmost planting of Bald Cypress I may not have known such plantings were possible. It inspired me to plant one in my own front yard, which has been a source of interest and beauty as a tree specimen.
There are plantings I made, like the Chinese Chestnut trees, which did not benefit from such expert example. I tried them in my yard and promptly lost them to a particularly cold winter. I might have been saved the trouble if I had noticed they don’t grow them in the arboretum. As it was, I lost two valuable trees- time and money wasted through ignorance.
That type of result is what a visit to these wonderful plant places can give you: an accurate idea of what will grow best in your climate and conditions.
The effect of blooming crabapples is breathtaking.
Cost of An Arboretum, Fees
THE COST TO YOU IS MINIMAL
Many times such places are free.
Some are free to members who pay annual fees; some are open to all, but require an entrance fee. Check in advance whether there is an entry fee or not. The costs are usually minimal in my experience.
Such places give an education that benefits all of us collectively, and it is worthy of support. Donations or memberships are premier ways to support their work, and if there is an entrance fee it is usually minimal. All to a good cause.
But most of us freely enjoy and learn! It is a very frugal way to get entertainment, and as a daytrip to explore when we travel.
Arboretums are a great resource for the D-I-Y home landscaper. Nothing saves money like doing something yourself, and with plantings the important measure of success is not just looking good at the initial installation, but growing well over time. Seeing full grown plants in growing conditions like your own will be the best way to wisely choose, and perhaps see plants as they are tested for the home market.
The brochures, the classes, and websites that are produced by these organizations will also provide invaluable information. Visiting these parks and gardened collections provide not just time in the outdoors, but a chance to pick up valuable materials, perhaps view library materials about trees and plants, and learn how to landscape localized to your own area. This can bring added success to the diy home landscaper.