Does your faded garden make you sad? Just keep on planting

A gardener who continually plants is never depressed because they’re fulfilling their need to nuture.

A funny thing happens to me this time of year. As we move from the gardening glory of spring to the doldrums of summer, I often find myself in a state of mild depression. I call it my “gardener’s postpartum depression.”

All of the fabulous floral displays that I labored over in spring have now faded, and I am faced with the drudgery of taking care of what is left.

The peonies and irises are all done for the season, the candy tuft has been sheared back, all of those gorgeous spring bulbs have now dried up and disappeared, and the roses have finished their first flush of blooms. It will be another four to six weeks before they bloom again. My hostas have lost their immaculate form, having been overcome by the local slug population, and the magnificent leaves of my hardy banana groves are now shredded on the edges from the wind.

Nothing in my garden is perfect anymore.

Of course, I realize that seeking perfection is a foolish thing to do — but having a garden that is always interesting and constantly coming in and out of bloom is essential to my mental health.

If there are too may lulls between blooming episodes, I fall into a funk. I desperately need something to look forward to as the season marches on. My solution? Keep planting! The care and feeding of these youngsters gives me purpose. As they grow and mature, I once again feel the thrill of laboring over yet another fabulous floral display.

I suppose some would proclaim that I have a horticultural addiction and that I need to go through a 12-step program to cure myself. I would argue that there is something very therapeutic about watching a plant grow and ultimately come into bloom. It fulfills my need to nurture another lifeform and express myself artistically.

Admittedly, I have an unfair advantage over all of you gardeners out there, in that I live right next to the “candy store.” Anytime I want, I can mosey over to my nursery and find a new treasure to plop into my garden. The rest of you have to make a conscious effort to find time for a trip to the garden center. But make it you should, for the simple reason that a gardener who is always planting is never depressed or pessimistic but, rather, constantly focused on the future. Gardeners can’t help but be eternal optimists.

Despite the heat wave we are experiencing, summer is a perfectly good time to add plants to our gardens. The trick is to make sure there is plenty of moisture surrounding those new roots. Easily accomplish this by first filling the planting hole with water, then letting it soak in, inserting the new plant into the hole with the removed soil and some fertilizer, and finally building a watering basin around it, which you’ll fill with an inch of water three to four times. It’s really that simple.

The other advantage of planting this time of year is that there is an incredible variety of summer-blooming plants that were not in the garden center come spring. Many of these plants will continue to bloom throughout the summer.

If you’re experiencing some gardener’s postpartum depression, try adding some new plants to your garden, and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits. It certainly works for me!

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at

Perfect perennials

Attend a free class on the perfect perennials for summer at 10 a.m. Aug. 4 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit

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