Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At the drawing board

I don’t know about you, but I really like seeing stuff on paper. Maybe it’s the old bookkeeper in me that makes me love a paper trail. Between laying out kitchens on paper and laying out gardens on paper, I’m not sure I could choose my favorite hobby… except that gardens are scarier. I definitely needed the surety and comfort of my paper garden before I could put the first spade in the ground in the front yard. I planned that garden with great trepidation. Measurements were taken and diligently transferred to graph paper. I own a quality artist’s eraser, because there’s always a lot of erasing involved. I like to be as precise and pretty about it as I can be. Once the drawing was done, my brain could wrap itself around it, left and right, up and down, and I could proceed without confusion and fear. It was all in my head – safe and secure.

Changing my garden is an equally nebulous and overly complicated task until I get it on paper. Having all these roses floating around in my head along with the places I thought they should occupy is very unsettling and accomplishes nothing and even causes delay and procrastination because of the uncertainty and disorder. So to paper I finally run. It’s my confident refuge, my two-dimensional filing system where all the odd pieces eventually do find their appointed places. Colored lead makes decisions final, and coded symbols defy the possibility of confusion. And, of course, erasers give assurance that decisions can be rethought and three-dimensional mistakes avoided.

The hardest part this time was deciding which roses would leave. There were really poorly performing roses that I love, and there were mediocre roses that I didn’t love but felt bad about rejecting. If you’re at all like me, you know the beloved roses win out which means the others become the losers even though there is strong sentiment on their side. Emotion!  Does it have to be part of every decision? Definitely, no. I have made some very cold, cut and dried decisions in this garden, but this remodeling is not like that. I had reduced my rose numbers to what I thought were a bare minimum that I was happy with - - and then bought more roses. Not the first time, and I doubt it will be the last. As it turns out, there are only six (or maybe five or four) leaving, and they will have a lovely new home. I wish they could have been beautiful here in my garden, but they weren’t and that’s that.


With the help of my rose-wise friend, Carol, who grows 900 roses, I have selected specific places in the ground and in pots for specific roses based on size and sun. Size is always iffy, and I always fudge on it. Like Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters trying to force their big, ugly feet into Cinderella’s tiny slipper, I’m just a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ these roses will fit. At the same time I’ve resigned myself to the roses running together somewhat with bush blending into bush. One day someone will say, “Oh, look. This bush has two colors on it”, but it will be two bushes reaching beyond their allotted space into their neighbor's space, creating a new rose bush. I figure that putting a five-foot diameter rose bush in a four-foot diameter space isn’t as bad as having one less rose bush, so I kid myself a little into thinking they’ll all fit fine… along with all the daylilies and all the coneflowers and all the coreopsis and all the dianthus. I can’t say no to me... or to one more rose.


  1. Goodness gracious! You are serious! Have fun with your garden redo.


  2. I can never seem to measure correctly, so although I would love to have plan on paper like you have (how beautiful!), I just end up winging it. And I think they'll all fit just fine. I like rose bushes intermingling together.

  3. I found your blog via @BarthleandAssoc on Twitter. So glad I clicked! Great blog. Love your garden. Great Roses