I've said it before and I'll say it again: gardening is an exercise in patience. Much needed patience, to be sure, because around here it often feels like there is nothing but time--endless time--stretching out before me and any tangible "goal" is hopelessly distant. Time is an enemy to be vanquished.
The, um, misguided former owners of this property filled most of the garden beds with red volcanic rocks rather than plants, you know, those living things most sensibly found in a garden. I have spent years removing these rocks, which have burrowed 2-3" into the soil thanks to about 20 years of residence time. The efforts are just now beginning to pay off. Often it has felt like I've been spending time in a labor camp.
Here you see a convalescing bed on the north side of our yard. It gets decent sun for being on the north side. Now the rocks are gone and topsoil, compost, and not enough mulch have taken their place. A purple daylily and alchemilla seedlings so small you can't even see them are here, thanks to the very generous Mr. McGregor's Daughter who let me raid her garden recently. They will be joined by soon-to-arrive spring bulbs and other perennials.
Along the back fence I've replaced the rocks with wild ginger (Asarum canadense, not pictured) and woodland phlox (P. divaricata), also thanks to MMG. I moved an unknown hosta cultivar here from a forgotten spot that received absolutely no sun. My native alumroots (Heuchera richardsonii) and pink coral bells (Heuchera don't-know-the-species) are also here. Unfortunately, the electric, gas, and cable lines for the entire neighborhood run directly along this fence (hence that red spray paint), so my digging and planting options remain limited. In response I'm focusing on groundcovers and tough foliage plants.
Now that the plants are in I must wait for the groundcovers to spread, the transplants to acclimate, and the bulbs to simply arrive. The perennials will mostly abide by the three-year choreographed dance of "sleep, creep, leap." Time is a challenge to be overcome.
So at times like this, when I'm happy but impatient with progress, I must remind myself how precious time really is in the garden. I have to look around now, not keep focusing on the future, to appreciate the current beauty here, however small or fleeting it may be. Time is a friend to be embraced.
(A bumblebee enjoying Joe-Pye weed in full bloom only happens a few weeks of the year.)
(Catching a dragonfly, even a blurry one, is a rare, momentary garden treat.)
I must also remember that time moves so quickly that soon it will be past me. Just 6 months ago my rain garden was a barren, muddy patch of ground near my daylilies. Now it's flush with sedges (Carex spp.), obedient plants (Physostegia virginiana), and other healthy natives just waiting for their turn to leap.
(Rain garden before...)
(Rain garden after)
It's just an exercise in patience.
For more thoughts on time in the garden, check out the Garden Bloggers Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild.