Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Guilt-Inducing Backyard

I was blessed to find an adorable little house with a gorgeous backyard. Here comes Jen, trotting around like a fairy, admiring the beautiful plants and thinking, "Oh my, it's a little garden cottage! I absolutely must make this modest slice of heaven my home for years to come!" I could practically feel the flutter of butterfly wings as they landed on my shoulders. The birds sang for me each morning. A little deer fawn basked in the sun.

I was obviously delusional. I didn't give a single thought to the upkeep required for a yard half an acre long.
Mowing? There are friendly little neighborhood boys to do that!
Pulling weeds? Oh surely not, the flower roots will take up all the room in the soil!
Mosquitoes? Well that's what the precious birds are for!

It's all a part of the circle of life in NaiveandClueless Land.

The first year, I barely lifted a finger. The previous owners, a stay-at-home mom with a knack for all things green and a conservationist who designed protected wildlife parks in the area, had kept up with it for years. I let everything grow because that's what Snow White would do and frankly, I wasn't sure what was good and what was bad. I didn't touch the yard in the fall...just let things grow au-naturel. The snow will cover up and kill all the bad, I thought. Right, Jen, the snow will kill all the bad.

The second year was hot. Very, very hot. I was 7 months pregnant come springtime. The yard grew like a monster. Mosquitos were thick and the weeds were creeping out of the foundation like The Terminator in the end scene where he's stuck in that machine about to be super-crushed for good. I pulled weeds once and within hours they grew back. And then the baby came, so that's the end of that chapter.

The third year, this year, I hired a landscaper. It was expensive and I felt awful for the guys. They worked from sunup to sunset, just the two of them, raking and pulling and hauling three years worth of crap into our fire pit.
Side note: Snow does not kill the bad.

Here's a few shots of the landscaped yard in the spring and early summer:

And as the plants started growing in: 

After paying all that money in the spring, I was determined to keep up with the yard. My resolve lasted well into the month of June...and then the heat hit.

When I say I hate heat, what I mean is, I'd rather be dunked in an ice bath repeatedly for 24 straight hours while listening to RuPaul karaoke a Culture Club song than sit in the scorching sun when the temperature rises above 78 degrees. I am a huge wussy, can't handle it, try every year to suck it up, and always end up saying "a plague on both of your houses, I'm out."

Then, right around August, when the weather starts to cool down and the mosquitoes die off, I get the Backyard Guilt, or BG. The BG tells me I suck for letting my yard look like crap. It tells me I'm a fool for hiring someone and then not making the time to keep up on it. The BG is pretty nasty and it bites me right in the ass every time I look outside. Observe my current backyard view:

Care for some creeping vines of doom?

How about a nice place to raise your boa constrictor?

That's not cabbage, that's neglect!

Allow me to reiterate...


Worst part? I've weeded that bed, the one pictured right over this text, at least 50 times this year. That "special something" about my backyard? It needs to be cared for on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Unfortunately for me and my huge suitcase of BG, I can't get out there every weekend. I can barely get out there once a month. So what's a girl to do?

Make it magical, I guess.

Those giant, yellow, 12-foot-tall flowers? My neighbor is obsessed with them. She told me just the other day, "JEN! The yellow flowers bloomed! When I look out my window I see them peeking over the fence and it just makes my day!" They are called "cup" plants...and they are native to my area. The birds and bugs love them to death, and so does my neighbor.

When designing my perfect yard earlier this spring (or rather, daydreaming about what I would do when the landscapers left me a perfectly blank slate.....haha), I decided I had to have Bee Balm. I don't have a picture posted here, but in a bed closer to the house, I planted bright, red, beautiful bee balm. It took me days to find the perfect shade and plant, not to mention money and time. "A good start!" I thought. "Look at how resourceful I am!"

Hey, so, see those little purple flowers right there in the middle of the picture below? Guess what that is. Oh yes, it's Bee Balm. It's all over the place, growing on it's own, most likely planted by the previous owners years ago and forced into dormancy with my poor weed-clearing. The landscapers freed it this past spring and you should see the beautiful bees I get back there!

Below is a shot of the tulip bed from another angle. You can see the Hollyhock I planted on Mother's Day. I stood there this afternoon, just staring at the chaos, and after a minute I realized... the bed looks almost....well....pretty. I recognized a subtle undercurrent of life...like when you stand next to an electrified fence....the air was humming. What you can't see is the bird's nest I found, or the flurry of lil bitty crickets that jumped up with every step I took, or the sounds of cicadas waving goodbye to the day, or the smell of those lush, incredibly green grasses.

Of course, this could all be a figment of my delusional imagination. Something I've concocted to embrace my lazy gardener and a thoughtful excuse to keep my hands out of the dirt. If that's what this feeling is....this feeling of acceptance.........I'll take it.

Hope you each get the chance to look past the weeds this week :)


  1. You have a beautiful yard!! I say plant weeds. I planted wild flowers in my flower bed and they are beautiful. Crazy and everywhere but well so am I. And now I don't notice the weeds. Enjoy the beauty of the weeds or I will make sure you are "dunked in an ice bath repeatedly for 24 straight hours while listening to RuPaul karaoke a Culture Club song" hahhahahahhaha

  2. love it jenny!