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 info@sunnysidenursery.net.

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 www.sunnysidenursery.net.

Talk to us

More in Life

Jeff Daniels
Actor Jeff Daniels also knows his way around the blues guitar

The Edmonds Center for the Arts will present a streaming concert by Daniels on Jan. 15.

Freezer-to-table recipes — plus a little help from the kids — makes putting dinner on the table easy. (Jennifer Bardsley)
When families cook together, dinner is ready in a flash

Here’s how you, too, can assemble 14 freezer-to-table recipes in four hours for two weeks of easy meals.

Dr. Paul on making a habit of expressing your appreciation

It can be as easy as putting a sticky note out to remind yourself be on the lookout for a job well done.

Artists Amber and Alex Vincini sit by examples of their artwork outside their studio on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
CARES Act grant helps artists be creative — and pay the rent

The money allows Everett’s Schack Art Center to hire artists and art educators.

When harvesting an Asian pear, the best method is to taste. Asian pears will ripen on the tree. (Getty Images)
Fruit trees 101: A gardener’s CliffsNotes for growing them

If you have any interest in growing your own fruit, it’s prime time to pick up apples, plums, cherries and pears.

Scherenschnitte is a special type of German paper cutting art, and old and new examples are both seen at auctions. This modern example sold for just $40. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
G.B. French made this scherenschnitte in the 20th century

The Kovels were surprised French’s paper cutting art was at auction, when artwork from the 1800s is more popular.

"Diane" witch hazel produces dark copper-red flowers in winter, providing quite a show against its bare branches. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane,’ Diane witch hazel

“Diane” witch hazel produces dark copper-red flowers in winter, providing quite a show against its bare branches.

Shylah Hallam-Noel left, a worker at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle, receives the second shot of the Pfizer vaccination for COVID-19, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, from a Walgreens Pharmacist, right. The facility had an outbreak of COVID-19 in May of 2020 that resulted in more than 100 positive cases among staff and residents, including Allen, and the deaths of 20 residents and two staff members. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The tricky road to herd immunity, explained

Three researchers who study the spread of infectious disease offer a reality check on how far we’ve come — and how far we have to go.

Photo by Wes Anthony/Firehouse Creative
Lead actress Shannyn Sossamon talks with filmmakers Andrew Morehouse,center, and Nate
Bell while filming “The Hour After Westerly” at the Fort Casey Inn.
Watch film featuring Whidbey Island for free through Jan. 16

The “Twilight Zone”-esque “The Hour After Westerly” is based on a short story by Robert M. Coates.

Most Read