The tall Norway maple provided welcome shade onto our ‘hill’ garden, where we were preparing a spot for yet another hydrangea, the thirtieth, or so, in this corner of our backyard.
Myself, I’m a reluctant gardener, so much so that I dare even call myself a gardener. However, my wife is passionate about her plants, so I help and we work the land together, she a bonafide ‘green thumb’ and me, just a ‘plain’ thumb. Quite honestly, I enjoy our hydrangea gardens. A walk among the changing flora of our mature gardens is a relaxing respite at day’s end.
The planting process is simple for our gardens: select the plant, choose a location, decide on composition (positioning), and, finally, dig the hole . All important decisions are made by my wife, the real gardener, my role comes in at the end, I’m the digger. There is no mental stress in digging, just physical, hence, the welcome cover of shade from the hot sun.
Excavating our soil is no easy task, though, it’s clay, dense and heavy, once used in the local manufacturing of bricks*. To complicate the dig, the spot we refer to as ‘the hill’ once was occupied by a tall silver maple tree. It’s only a ‘hill’ because the thick, woody roots of that tree are still there, like a subterranean maze, pushing up the ground. They criss-cross beneath the soil, challenging me to find a spot for the perfect hole. It’s a trial and error process, but I find one.
The hole must be deep and wide enough to accept an ample amount of cow manure, making a healthy bed, and the roots of the plant must be relieved, or untangled, before planting to allow them to grow freely, not be strangled. My wife cuts them with a garden knife, around the perimeter and bottom.
The plant is placed in the hole, manure is packed around it and some fine mulch (leaf is our favorite) laid atop. A good watering follows and continues for days to assure a good start.
If we’ve done it right, then we wait and our patience will be rewarded with beautiful flowers that have made the hydrangea a favorite of gardeners, reluctant gardeners, too. With such fancy names as Pinky Winky, Quick Fire, Twist n Shout, the colorful petals, from soft white to blushing pinks and blues, adorn our yard from summer to fall.
Gardeners love their hobby. My wife glows. Me? I find the benefit of gardening is teaching me patience, learning to wait for beautiful results…and then to enjoy some much needed therapy with a walk among the plants.
To my wife, a green thumb gardener