The Stress and Anxiety of an Open Garden


I’ve been gardening for two decades now and yet I’m not known to have much of a show garden. It’s been a bit of a joke for me really, since I’ve been experimenting with so many things for so long, but I’ve had a plan. I just have not had a lot of money to do much, or the energy to do it myself.

Back in the olden days when I was training the willow arbor. This photo shows why the garden is named Campiello Maurizio after Maurice, the chunky kitty in the foreground. The kitties have always loved the back garden.

So instead, I tinkered. I grew random plants in pots, and for over a decade I sold their seeds on Etsy. Plants were here and there and I was a seed grower. I collected seeds in others’ gardens, I cleaned them, and I offered them for sale and grew them here too. It was chaos, a mess really, but I learned a lot and grew a reputation as a seedsperson. I sold over 5,000 packets of seeds and/or glassine envelopes. It was a lot!

As my health has improved and become more manageable, I’ve worked to tame the place, and to edit it and make sense of it. But I miss growing seeds. I miss working at home. I keep trying to grow seeds again. I just don’t have the energy now. To be good at it you really need to have a keen eye for detail and I just am too tired and worn down after working all week. But like I said, I keep trying. This year is no different and seeds will be sown again.

The same benches as above. They’re all gone now, and Mona was the last cat in the photo above to pass away. We lost her last fall.

Only a few friends know what this garden home has looked like over the years. I never planned big, I only had things that made me happy for a spell, small dumb things that I could afford at the time. The amount of energy it can take to plan a garden project is often taken for granted. Editing is easier now since I basically just want to sit in a hammock, but I do have quite the collection of plants, and visitors will not be disappointed by them at all.

The South Garden before the Doug fir with 7 heads was removed.

With aching fingers now I can only write so much about all of this, but it’s worth the anxiety to open your garden once you get it in order. It by no means should be perfect either, it’s an unfinished story that visitors can begin, and return to next year if they wish, and maybe again later.

Like life, gardens are never the same. Change is a challenge, but change can be beautiful. I love this about gardens and gardening.

Sadly, yes, it can feel competitive, and you can feel like less than some other gardener, but what matters is your joy, the pleasure you feel from your own efforts, and the happiness you can share with others. We need one another and we need to feel and share joy.

The South Garden several years after the Doug fir with 7 heads was removed.

Most of my adult life has been spent hiding in my garden, dealing with health issues, and the more time I spend away from it, I realize how many challenges folks deal with daily and I see the privilege I have as the city grows around me and as homes get smaller, and so many have no gardens at all. Land is becoming more and more expensive.

So I choose to share my happiness and my fun collection of plants.

The front garden maybe 10 years ago.

It is a panicked time now working so hard at both nurseries, dealing with the usual stresses of the workplace, customers and coworkers all bringing their own stuff to the table, dealing with my own insane chronic pain, and having and an extreme need to find balance in my own self after having lived a life wildly beyond my control.

As I pull it all together, the garden is coming along too and I love it. I’m stinking exhausted, but I’m happy.

The front garden a few weeks ago after hiring the help of two coworkers. It’s amazing how far you can go when you have some help.

So please, open your garden, make new friends, share plants, smile, laugh, and enjoy the time you have here in this life to share with others.

Professionalism, Respect, Kindness: Life is short

January 2017: Amateur Bot-Ann-Ist is Back!!!


img_1108It seems only fair to write a post after a week-long snow event. This will be short though—much like my patience after being snowed-in for so long. Last year I felt that I needed a break but I didn’t know why and now I feel better about a return to regular posts. So much has happened. It is sad to think that there were many things I didn’t post about but I will try to add them when I can in the future.

img_3249This fall we lost Maurice the Cat. He was an old guy who sadly passed away from cancer on his jaw. Luckily he’s been immortalized because the back garden was named after him so we will forever think of him. He spent many summers in Campiello Maurizio sunbathing on his favorite bench beneath the living willow arbor. He will be sorely missed. img_4266Last spring this little guy made his appearance. Felix has been quite a handful ever since he arrived here. He was abandoned by his mom the day he was born and sadly outlived his sister. With no mama cat and no siblings to play with I have had to do a lot of work. We received him when he was about 3 weeks old and I will forever be grateful to his foster mama.

He will certainly be showing up here a bit more now although both he and LuLu are primarily indoor cats since we lost Quincy just over a year ago to an urban coyote. They do get to go outside but both are doing well with supervised trips.

Felix is an alleycat of the highest degree and there is NEVER a dull moment when he’s around. Never have I owned a cat who enjoyed knocking over garbage cans and breaking glass so much. Lucky for him he’s a love bug. We look forward to those moments. He is a tiny terror, but he was also very sweet to Maurice in his final days. He’s not all bad. img_5674

At the end of 2016, thanks to my underground dinners, I was finally able to pay off the debt incurred by my back surgery several years ago. In 2017 the goal is to work on paying down the debt owed to my ex-husband from the divorce. If you’re in the Portland area and are interested in attending, please find the page somewhere here on my blog and add your name to the list. That’s the best way to find out what I’m up to and what menus will be coming up next. img_8126The other big news in 2016 was my first official job in the horticulture industry. It’s something I’ve longed to do for years and thanks to my friend and mentor Sean Hogan (of Cistus Design Nursery) it happened. I’m only a part-time employee, and this works well because of my health limitations, but the best part is that I’m a “Seedstress”. Only Sean could manufacture a name that great.

In 2017 it would be wonderful to be working more and more in the horticulture field but I’m not yet sure how much I can handle physically. Luckily, my health has been fairly stable since I started new treatments, and I guess that’s another reason I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been living my life and have been having a wonderful time getting up and around and developing and strengthening friendships. I was more active in 2016 than I’ve been in many years. It was great! img_9818Clearly I’m doing just fine! Obviously! So send me some new clothes. The ones I’ve been wearing are old (tight budget) but I DID get a new hat. (Roars with laugher.)

Ok folks, I hope someone is still out there reading this blog! See you again very soon. Can’t wait to update the world on all of the dead plants that we’ll be seeing in the next few months thanks to this weather we’ve been having. We only ended up with about a foot of snow here at our house.