It’s Gonna be Different this Year. I Swear.

Ah, May in Chicagoland! Remember, last Monday I was bitching because it was so cold that we turned on the furnace? Today it’s ninety degrees in the shade. The first hot Sunday of the year spurs me to run off the financial cliff like a sweaty lemming.

I drive, trance-like, to a fabulous and pretty darn pricey local nursery called The Planter’s Palette. Surrounded by hundreds of fellow gardening lemmings I walk the immaculate brick-paved rows, lust-crazed for the enormous selection of , well, name it!  annuals, perennials, herbs, old rare roses, vegetables, cool pots and garden furniture, astrolabes and birdbaths. This is no common or garden Garden Center. Hidden fountains burble away, secret gardens are tucked in here and there — if it weren’t for the price tags, this place is my Eden.

Until I pay up. Great gulping gazanias! The cashier always checks for your name on the computer, because if you spend fifty grand (or something) they mail you a twenty-five dollar gift certificate. In fifteen years of giving them money I shouldn’t , I’ve received  fifty dollars back, and like any submissive greedy gardener I’ve been so grateful it verges on lame.

This year Lou the Killjoy decided he’d come along as a kind of designated shopping cart watchdog, and I was glad. We hired Victor the landscaper to weed,prune and mulch before Lloyd came and we made a pact that we’d maintain what’s left this summer and limit new purchases to herbs. The only garden plans we have this summer is to expand the perennial herb garden to the left of the kitchen door.The chives, tarragon and marjoram overwintered well, and I’ll add sage and thyme. Sage is surprisingly tough in this climate, and with some coddling the thyme may come back. The rosemary and basil will be transplanted into pots, so I can squeeze a couple more months from them indoors come fall.

The uncharacteristically tiny haul:

We decided we could get wild and crazy and buy a tomato plant. These are photographed against the background of rosa Henry Hudson  rioting away.

A different view for the followers of Willow. As always, she was right there with me, eager to help.

I bought a couple of packages of Renee’s Garden seeds I’d never consider a summer without: Nasturtiums “Cherries Jubilee” and Cosmos ” Double Pink Bon Bon.” They’ll be planted in containers.

So I’m feeling smug and virtuous. Maybe this will be the only trip I make to Planter’s Palette this year!  Maybe I’ll be able to harden my heart to those pathetic flats of midsummer marked-down annuals. (They just need some TLC.) Maybe this year I’ll keep up with the weeding! Shoe addicted girlfriends can sneak a new pair into the house past a footwear-blind husband  — no prob. It’s harder to get away with “That row of hydrangeas? They’ve always been there, Darling.”



Filed under Growing things, Home, On the Street Where I Live, The Great Outdoors

4 responses to “It’s Gonna be Different this Year. I Swear.

  1. Dave Scantland

    All I know is: “Sweaty Lemmings” would be a great name for a rock band.

  2. Lloyd

    Hello, Willow!

  3. Gretchen

    Oh Margaret! I stay away from Planter’s palette for all the reasons you mentioned. I have often walked it’s aisles the way a book worm walks a library. Alone. No company needed. It’s better than going to a park, as there is always the chance I may find something I can take home with me.

  4. That primal call is older’n dirt itself. I think we all fall Thrall to a drop of Spock blood coursing, coursing.

    We planted our own back 40 yesterday—a 25′ circle, which had only several years’ installments of a big clump of sage (blooming for the first time), three spreading lavenders, a huge patch of oregano/marjoram all cuddled together, and an immense “lovidge” plant, as Mammaw called it.

    Several little tarragons and a side crescent of mint, as well as two thymes, are all that “wintered over” with us.

    We put in a little patch of garlic chives, and every seed and bulb flower which caught Caro’s eye at the garden centers for the past months.

    It’s tilled up like cake crumbs, ripe with seed, and dampened in well. I took pictures in the first sunbeams, so I hope to chronicle the progress this year.

    I always forget til we’ve snaggle-toothed the onion rows, cut six cabbages, and the rabbits have been at everything else.

    MMMMMMMM! Lemming sweat!

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