The Accidental Gardener

It pains me to have to tell you that while I’ve made some good progress on home interior-related stuff lately, I’ve totally stalled out in the garden department. I did my patio containers a while back, and they’re looking good. But the back bed by the garage—the one I vowed to conquer this summer—has totally languished.

I can’t believe I’m showing you this, but the weeds have grown to positively Amazonian proportions. I give you Exhibit A…

I blame the weather. It’s been HOT. Too hot for garden work (or at least this is what I’m telling myself). My neighbor, who is a very sweet man, was out in his backyard the other day diligently mulching his beds in 90+ degree heat. I complimented him on his roses, and then we chatted for a bit about the challenges of maintaining a garden. He said to me very seriously, “You know those are weeds, don’t you?” Bless him! I suppose he thought that by letting them grow to that height I was actually trying to cultivate the genus Weedus-Amazonus.

I’m ashamed I’ve let it get to this state, but it IS a bit overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that it’s a little scary back there. I’ve spotted some weird, slightly sinister-looking birds hanging around that back garden bed and they’re giving me the creeps. I give you now Exhibit B. It’s as if with that beady black eye, this little character is warning me away, insinuating that I should keep my distance…

So I have kept my distance. That is, until just a few days ago, when I was out in the backyard with Archie and happened to catch a lovely little glimmer of blue and lavender amid those crazy-tall dense weeds. I brushed them out of the way—with the kind of frenzy I’d attribute to someone lost in a cornfield—to reveal this rather amazing discovery:

A hydrangea that I didn’t even know existed! And beautiful mop-heads in my favorite tones—cool blues and lavenders. Dreamy. I’ve waxed lyrical about the beauty of the hydrangea here and, more recently, here. But I haven’t been able to grow them successfully. (Maybe the preponderance of weeds in the garden beds has something to do with this, you say? I would agree this may be a contributing factor.)

I do have another larger hydrangea (this one I knew about, no secret here). The first summer I spent in this house: no blooms. Last summer: 1 bloom (after my dad helped by pruning it waaaaaay back that spring). This summer: a few small blooms are beginning to show. Hurray! Signs point to a successful comeback, but the blooms are nowhere near the size of my “secret” hydrangea. Still pretty, though:

My working theory is that my uber-tall weeds actually created the conditions for the secret hydrangea to flourish by providing shade/more filtered light in what has typically been the sole “full-sun” zone of my garden. Obviously, growing weeds of Amazonian proportions is not a viable solution long term. Perhaps I need to relocate my hydrangea to a shadier spot? Hmmm. At any rate, points to ponder…

Right now, though, I’m focused on enjoying the fruits of my labor—er, laziness, I mean:

Here’s a close-up (I love those colors!):

Seriously, though, are there any Northeast green thumbs out there with tips on growing hydrangeas successfully, and properly (i.e., not in the shadow of waist-high weeds), in our climes? I’d love to hear your tips…

In the meantime, I’ve put my little arrangement of garden blooms on the mantel in my office so I can enjoy them this week while I work.

Here’s to happy accidents!

The Writer

Writer & Residence blog. A blog dedicated to two of my favourite things, interior design, and writing.

  1. Just a thought…maybe your neighbour is concerned about the weeds because he sees that the flowers on them will soon go to seed and then blow into his yard. I have neighbours who fret about weeds too. The hydrangeas are lovely, I like the blues and mauves also. Is that bird you are afraid of a baby robin?

    1. Val, thank you—I think you might have something there! I have no idea whether that is a baby robin. It doesn’t seem very robin-esque to me, but I’m no bird expert, that’s for sure!

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