The Planting

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.

FLOWERS 5   IMG_0555  IMG_0160

June ‘18

To my wife, a green thumb gardener


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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

26 thoughts on “The Planting”

    1. We must have 50 of various sizes. They’re beautiful well into Fall. Where are you on the globe? We have to make sure that we get Zone 4 or 5 for the winters.


    1. I’m not an expert (remember, I’m only the digger…) but I think it depends on the soul as to you what determines the color, acidic or alkaline we’re trying to keep a couple of ours blue. Either way, we enjoy them, especially the variety. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love this, Steve! I too am a reluctant gardener, particularly when it comes to digging up something like a hosta that is way too big. We need hydrangeas, I think. Twist and Shout would be right up my alley!


    1. The hydrangeas have such fanciful names. As I write, I will literally go to our gardens in evening and walk among the hydrangeas. It is so relaxing. We planted two new ones this year whose name is ‘Sensation’ and they are. The ‘Oak Leaf’ hydrangea is magnificent but favorites of rabbits so we avoided them at this house. Thanks for reading, Jennie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Steve. That must be a lovely place to write. I can just picture all the blooms with the fun, fancy names. Bunnies, too. 🙂


  2. There were 3 hydrangea’s on this property when I moved here and really not a lot of room to add. I have a tiny rented area around my home and am often a reluctant gardener. The color changes as I add an acid fertilizer to the soil. Sometimes, mostly, it’s coffee grounds. Azaleas love coffee grounds too as well as tomato plants and pine type trees. I’m not allowed to compost here so when no one is looking, I did a hole and bury my green waste in the ground to help the soil. Looking at the garden is so much more fun than working on it anymore. I’m getting old. 😉 You do your job so she can do hers. Perfect teamwork.


    1. I’m with you on ‘looking’ vs ‘working’. Where are you located? If I asked before, I apologize. I find myself wishing sometimes for ‘a tiny area around my home’. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I live in a small manufactured home community outside of Portland, Oregon. We lease the land and own (along with the bank) our homes. It’s quiet and peaceful but the owners of the park have a major say in what we can do here. So far, they have been happy that I am taking care of my spot so it looks nice to others looking to purchase here. I’ve been here 4 years and written a great deal about my journey from apartment living to this home. Much better here but definitely more work.


      2. Portland, eh? My brother lived most of his adult life in Portland and loved it. He was an outdoorsman and the Portland area provided him with many natural pleasures. I have nephews there, following his example. Our daughter lives in the city and works in Camus, WA. It’s a beautiful area.

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      3. I am familiar with the Camus area. I don’t drive much anymore but my sister is living in Woodland not far north of there. My daughter is here and that’s why I am. I love this place. Do you get out to visit your daughter on occasion?

        Liked by 1 person

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