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Gardening Schizophrenia

This is the time of year when I am frequently torn by opposing emotions. Concerning the garden, I mean. Let’s not even think about getting into all the other areas. Those 50 degree nights? They make me think about frost. It’s coming. Soon. Four weeks? Six weeks? And it makes me crazy. Everything is looking so nice.


I get to the point that I’m either begging for frost to come and take out the garden or begging for one more day above freezing so there won’t be any damage. Gardening schizophrenia. It doesn’t happen so much with things here at the IMA, but at home ….. well, that’s another story.
As if the gardening I normally do at my quaint little domicile isn’t sufficient to fill many of my waking hours, this year I decided to plant the entire backyard. Down went cardboard, paperboard, and paper feed bags followed by my special rabbit and chicken manure mulch.



Poof! The grass was gone. Unfortunately the dandelions, violets, and bind weed were not as cooperative and they accounted for at least half of my “turf”. But really the only serious weeding I had to do in these new areas was the bindweed. Next year there will be plenty of glyphosate sprayed on the beast. Because I’m going to have so much more free time? Who the hell am I kidding? Whatever. Hopefully I will manage to get a good spray program going because pulling the damn things does not work.
Perhaps the truly scary part of all this is the fact I was able to fill nearly all that space.



It’s hard to believe I once thought it was too much area. Not true. Not true at all. By the end of August, I was searching for more open ground. By early September I finally kind of gave up, though I am sure I will put a few more things in the ground about ten minutes before frost hits. I really am crazy! Why didn’t you people tell me?

Overall, I have been pretty-well pleased with the results. My new dahlias grew and bloomed beautifully.


My tomatoes went in late, but got huge.


My favorite is the variegated one that Gwyn gave me. That’s a feral petunia with it. They just show up every so often.


Even the fruit is variegated.


The Colocasia ‘Thai Giant Strain’ got fairly gigantic, almost six feet tall, but I know I can get it bigger.



And it has a lovely bloom.

I didn’t feel there was quite enough color, so I enhanced some Paulownia stems with paint (Mango Madness).


Then to give everything a little sparkle, a scattering of wine bottles, blue mostly.


Anyway, soon I will be having to answer the question that we all must face this time of year when the all-knowing weather forecasters say temperatures are dropping near freezing – Do I cover everything with sheets?
“The forecast says 34.”
“That’s not actually freezing.”
“But it’s only 2 degrees off.”
“Is it cloudy?”
“Any wind? Wind helps.”
“Unless it blows the sheets off and it drops to 31!”
“Aw crap! Because you know, you just know. After this one frost it’s going to be 70 for the next three weeks. “
“But I just want to get it over with. Let it die.”
“But if I cover it this one night I might have dahlias til Thanksgiving.”
If you haven’t lived it, well then, you just can’t understand it.
And if all that isn’t enough, when one finally decides it is time to give the garden over to Jack Frost and his evil sister Wanda Winter, one then must decide whom to save whom to leave to die. Gardening is not for the weak or the meek. But bi-polars do very well.

Filed under: Horticulture

15 Responses to “Gardening Schizophrenia”

  • avatar
    Jenny Mikulay Says:

    Nice tomatoes! Nice dahlias! Nice storm troopers!

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Thanks Jenny. Those Gnarls Barkley guys are something else. Quite clever.

  • avatar
    Gwyn Says:

    There’s something therapeutic about seeing in words what it is I feel each year – thank you Irvin! Love your Thai Colocasia blooms!! I want some too! : )
    Will we see blue wine bottles at the IMA next year???

  • avatar
    Uhhhhiyo Peepuls Says:

    ” I really am crazy! Why didn’t you people tell me?”

    Haven’t we told you? I’m quite sure we have. Well, we’ve dropped hints, anyways. Heavy handed ones. You should take us more seriously.

  • avatar
    Irvin Says:

    Thank you Gwyn! I know where to buy the Colocasias. Blue wine bottles at the IMA? I’m not sure the IMA is sophisticated enough for that, not just yet anyway.
    Peepuls, maybe you’re just too crazy for me to take you seriously. But I’m glad you are reading the blog. Thanks!

  • avatar
    chad Says:

    I thought that I had mentioned the crazy part when I saw the cardboard stretched across the lawn. have you reduced your mantenance since removing that small patch of turf? What kind of plants can you grow out of your old lawn mower now? What happened to the Chamaecyparis in the back? It looks great and I’m sure the heat from the manure will give you an extra degree. Dahlia’s for X-mas

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Dahlias for Christmas? The deep red ones would be super. But I know that is too much to hope for. It would be less maintenance in truth to have all the turf. But what’s the fun in that?

  • avatar
    Katie Colon Says:

    Irvine,, you crack me up,, I keep “finding” you in my journeys, and I happened across a local newspaper recently that had an article about an event you were speaking at,,( the name KINDA stands out in the “crowds” U R a very busy guy !! Have any thoughts about starting a Community garden that involves youth, and gourds maybe,, birdhouse, basket and ladle gourds, an experience for kids from seeds to finished Art projects <<hmmm?? Woodburning, staining, painting, leather tool working ,, lots & lots of possibilities there !! The kids could sell them, keep them, they are so fun to grow, and kids need some stuff to do next year outdide and learn about gardening, gourds are easy, etc, etc,, so,, let me know if you would like to try & initiate collaberate,,and make it happen,, Katie

  • avatar
    Katie Colon Says:

    psst,, and I reallllly like the blue bottles for color,, !! Recycle, reuse,, beautify !! If you are not busy Oct 31 from 9 to 12,, come on out and join the Pleasant Run Cleanup
    ( Jeff n Jonathan ) We will be meeting on Pleasant Run N Drive and Orange Street, and could use some tools. The group used mine before, ( I am realllllly locally convenient when they meet up on Orange ) they are VERY responsible and just so long as you mark ’em, ( mine have big pink polkadot bows ) Jeff and Jon will get ’em all back to ya as they are pretty full of >>>>> integrity IMHO,, Katie,,
    psst no dreaded doughnuts, just a buncha “fruits”

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Katie there just aren’t enough hours in the day at this point for either of those suggestions but will keep them in mind. Glad you found our blog. Keep reading. It’s fundamental don’t you know?

  • avatar

    Some amazing plant combinations you have going on here.

    Looking forward to seeing what this year brings for your Garden.

    A Death Star?

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Thanks Mark. Looking forward to the coming season myself. Let’s hope no Death Stars. Maybe some “Rising Stars”.

  • avatar

    I’m amazed that you still found some space for those pink animals. It is a really nice touch!

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