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Upper Midwest Gardening: what kind of gardener are you?

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duck_toller
Middleton, WI
(Zone 4b)

September 14, 2008
11:51 PM

Post #5552229

My grandmother was a connoisseur. Her specialty was ladyslippers, but she also loved tea roses from England and cherry trees from Virginia (not easy in Wisconsin).

My mother putterer ... a little of this and a little of that, and then she moved as often as they would allow. Every afternoon she'd wander the yards and gardens with a fairly generous plan that allowed her to plant her vegies and herbs amidst her flowers. Mostly it all made her happy.

My grandpa was an it's for the fun of it. He bought more plants no one had ever heard of or would survive through our winters, but were so cool and fun for one year that we all had to all check it out. No one was ever sure what he was doing or what would be there next year, but it was always an adventure. He's going to be 100 November of this year.\

I think I'm an anal retentive with aggressive tendencies. I need my gardens for down time. I come home from the office and name my weeds as I rip them out of the ground. I drown frustrations in dragging mulch. I find beauty in a day that was filled with other people's needs. I find peace in my cup of tea on the patio as I look over what I got done.

So what kind of gardener did you grow from?
mattsmom
Tomah, WI

September 15, 2008
12:24 AM

Post #5552332

I started as a "loves everything pink" gardener. As a newbie, not knowing that many would not survive our zone 4 winters.
Developed into a "loves all perennials" gardener & had many.
Last year turned into a "daylily obsessed maniac" & dug up many of my perennials to make way for my new love.
I agree, a garden is a wonderful place to work out frustrations. Many times I loose track of time when I'm working in
the yard. I love it. It IS so nice to sit back & look at what you have accomplished.
My garden tastes have changed over the years, but I still love anything in bloom!
jerseyridgearts
Prophetstown, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 15, 2008
2:24 AM

Post #5552807

An interesting thread...

I come from a Depression Gardener (Maternal Grandpa said "always have your own patch of dirt and always plant potatoes") and a Supervisory Gardener (paternal Grandmother had prize winning roses and african violets - her sons were the labor). My mother was an Organic Gardener before it was popular...and most grew mostly native ground cover, shrubs and trees.

I've taken it to the extreme: a patch of land (5 acres of garden rooms, vegetable patch, shrub borders fruit orchard and busy barnyard), non-prize winning gardens that still thrill me ( I'm the labor) and mostly organic practices although next year I want to nuke the rose beetles...

Many happy returns to your grandfather - I'm sure his sense of adventure adds richly to his days; and I can relate to your *agressive* tendencies in weeding. I used to head to my garden after a long week of fruitless meetings and marvel at my productive speed weeding - scheming how to haul all the meeting attendees to my gardens and put them to work!

Catherine
jasmerr
Merrimac, WI
(Zone 4b)

September 15, 2008
5:09 AM

Post #5553243

I would have to say I'm a 'binge gardener'! LOL

I have so much motivation in early spring and work all day, every day, for weeks on end. Then July hits and I wonder why I garden at all. The heat is oppressive and I get to a point of not looking as I go by because I can't see the weeds, if I'm not looking. By the second week of September my garden is surviving despite my neglect and I find myself spending long hours there again.
JuliaJayne
Appleton, WI

September 15, 2008
11:30 AM

Post #5553591

My father had a small vegetable garden. When I was a kid, I would have to occasionally have to weed it for him. I never liked being "made" to do it, but I recall that when I started weeding it was relaxing, almost zen-like. I still like that about weeding, although this year I spent a wad on 13 yards of mulch, because it got to be too much.

For the last 8 years I've been trying to transform a weedy, junk-tree filled yard into something of an oasis. I haven't realized my vision yet, partly because my tastes changed since I started, but also what I wanted from the garden, add to that late spring injuries nearly every year from over-doing it. This year I removed everything from the sunniest corner and put in raised beds for vegetables and herbs. That major change led to a lot of plants that needed to be moved and still more rearranging needs to be done. I was considering abandoning my family to make all the moves while the weather is still nice. That will leave me all winter to heal.

bigcityal
Menasha, WI
(Zone 5a)

September 16, 2008
2:05 AM

Post #5557038

I guess I am a formalized informal gardener. I like things to be very clean and maintained, but in an informal way.

I like the maintenance and pretty much deadhead and weed daily.
duck_toller
Middleton, WI
(Zone 4b)

September 16, 2008
12:54 PM

Post #5558312

My mother-in-law is a conformist with traditional tendancies. Every year she chooses what color petunias she's going to line her front walkway. I bought her a mixture of bachelors buttons, pansies, and snap dragons ... and I got the perfunctory "thank you." She likes her petunias. There are hostas under the deck that match the hostas under her neighbors' decks. There are lilacs along her east border she brought up from the farm house to keep the woods at bay.

My neighbor across the way is a chaotic director. She and her husband are disabled and walk with either canes or walkers depending on how their back, hips, legs, or feet are doing (they're elderly). On different days she has "hired help" who assist with cleaning, laundry, walking their two Samoyeds, and other stuff. I get a kick when I get home on Friday and see her unloading her truck with shrubs, flats of plants, or even little trees. That means tomorrow she will be leaning on her walker, waving and yelling ideas down the two acre hill to the two young women who are trying to figure out what she wants. It's a hoot. She has a little of everything, in a profussion of color, well mixed with invasives (spurge and queen anne's lace mostly) that don't seem to bother her.
pastime
Waterman, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 16, 2008
2:48 PM

Post #5558713

My great uncle Pete and aunt Rose Tremulis used to have a nursery in Batavia. I remember as a child visiting them. The day always included a long walk in the gardens. Great Uncle Pete was quite a character. My parents were gardners, but not very good weeders. My dad was from southern Indiana and was determined to grow peanuts up here. He actually managed to grow enough to make his famous peanut brittle. I couldn't wait to get my own home so could have a garden. I'm a much better weeder and call them names as I pull them out. Now my daughter has taken it a step further. She has a degree in horticultlure. She designs beautiful gardens and patios for other people, but her job leaves her with no time to take care of her own. She always brings home orphaned plants from job sites. This year she gave me a big Fat Albert Spruce, a weeping Larch, and a Tiger Eye Sumac. Customers found fault with them and she had to replace. There's nothing wrong with the trees that a little attention didn't fix. I love freebies. Bring em on!

Here's a picture of the little distressed Weeping Larch she gave me. It was attacked by the ugliest caterpillars I have ever seen. Thank God the tree is only 6' tall. I thoroughly enjoyed killing every one of them. It took a couple days, but I got them all. It's happy again and getting new growth. I will have to keep my eye on it next summer in case their relatives arrive.

Thumbnail by pastime
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medinac
Bensenville, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 21, 2008
3:30 AM

Post #5578894

Going to my maternal Grandma's house, we usually found her in her garden tending to her flowers. I mainly remember her purple phlox and hollyhocks and apple trees. She always had a very hard life and I think she found comfort and serenity in her garden. My paternal grandma also loved her flowers and I remember her phlox and dark pink peonies. She also had many tomato plants and canned her bounty. My mother had a few flowers but nothing like her mom. Mom always tells me I got my love of flowers and gardening from my grams. Phlox are my favorite flower, it's obvious why.

My garden tastes have changed from cottage garden to mass plantings but now I'm not so sure that's quite what I want either! I think I just like change, constant change. I have incorporated some nice flowering shrubs and am liking that look mixed with perennials. And it cuts down on maintenance.

I'm dedicating my east side garden to my grams, putting the above mentioned flowers in it and will call it Grandma's Garden.

I too love to weed, I complain about how fast they grow but then when I get out there and get going on them it's such a calming experience. My back just isn't too happy about it at the end of the day, but a few good cracks and a trip to the chiro and I'm good to go at it again!
pastime
Waterman, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 21, 2008
11:47 AM

Post #5579571

Grandma's Garden, that's really sweet.
KaylyRed
Watertown, WI
(Zone 5a)

September 22, 2008
3:46 AM

Post #5583291

This is a great thread!

Jasmerr, I can really relate to the whole binge gardening thing. I'm a maniac in the spring, but I tend to find July and August oppressive. I don't like the heat. I do keep my gardens watered and I do try to keep things somewhat tidy by deadheading or trimming back anything that tends to go dormant with the heat, but when it comes to weeds and other things that need tending my energy is usually spent. My spring enthusiasm goes a long way toward fixing whatever I let go in the heat of summer, which usually means a whole lot of weeding.

I'd also have to say that I'm a gardener who's very aware of nature's cycle of life, death and rebirth. Seasonal changes touch me on a spiritual level. This hit me in a huge way just the other day as I was driving past a home near my kids' school with a garden I've always deeply admired. This gardener's entire yard is filled with flowers in a very free-form and natural arrangement, almost like a tamed wildflower meadow. I've watched it go through its seasonal changes, and I was thrilled by it when it was in its full glory in mid- to late-summer. But now it's starting to fade and certain plants are clearly past their prime and slipping into dormancy. I can see things drying and going to seed. I think many people would find a garden at this stage ugly, or perhaps even "weedy looking." I find it deeply beautiful. I know those plants are doing just what they have to do to be reborn again after a long winter's sleep. Nature amazes and humbles me.
medinac
Bensenville, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 22, 2008
2:52 PM

Post #5584598

KayleyRed - Very well said!
enya_34
Madison, WI

October 3, 2008
6:13 AM

Post #5628029

I am an escapist gardener at least at this stage of my life. The greatest pleasure I get is from the process not the result, although I am beginning to lift my head and see a bigger picture after three years of "playing in the dirt" literally on my knees. My escapism is two fold. Since my passion is not shared by those I love, I do escape to the garden in the early hours of the morn :) On the other hand nothing restores my peace of mind better and brings about the serenity and hope than the garden. It sure is easier than meditation for me, but the effect is the same.
duck_toller
Middleton, WI
(Zone 4b)

October 3, 2008
9:12 PM

Post #5630164

My sister is a competitive gardener with a huge safety streak. She lives in Chicago and is newly in a family-sort of neighborhood. She's always loved her pot gardens when she was in hi rises, but now she has yard! She's very intent on having "the best" garden, so she's been raiding Mom's and my gardens for splittings and seeds. Some of her ideas for color and texture are so fun.

The problem is she has energetic 2 1/2 year old twin girls. They are sweet, silly, and liable to pick anything pretty and eat anything that looks edible. My sister also has a young black lab that eats hostas and other plants. Wally let's waving plants excite him. My sister had these cool enormous marigolds that waved in the wind, that Wally decided were a toy so he detroyed them leaving bright yellow petals in a swath across the yard. So anyway, my sister makes sure none of her plants will kill children or dogs.
Ginj
Mankato, MN
(Zone 4a)

October 10, 2008
3:19 PM

Post #5655123

My mother loved flower gardens,especially roses & gladiolas and living in Ohio along Lake Erie she had great Success. She loved going into her many flower gardens and tending them after work.

My father was a compulsive vegetable gardner. He loved trying new veggies and new techniques of growing them...What he did not like to do was weed the garden. I hated gardening for years afterward because of all the time I had to spend weeding.

Years ago my husband planted lots & lots of veggies. I got to weed & can or froze them. Eventually we both became too busy to do it. Boy was I ever glad.

About 6 years ago I was recuperating from surgery and my sister gave me some plants to tend from her garden . She loves to garden in much the same way my mother did. After work therapeutic gardening. Ever since then I've been planting flowers and colorful plants.

I'm more the adventurous planter. I like trying new things every year. I've turned my front yard into one massive flower garden & limestone walkway(which I put in myself). I also have two shade gardens and a sun garden. Next year I'll be putting in another shade garden. I add at least one new perrenial a year. I also take clippings and bring in pots to winter over.

I still hate to weed so I do everyting possible to limit my weeding time.

billyporter

billyporter
Nichols, IA
(Zone 5a)

October 22, 2008
11:36 PM

Post #5705520

I buy flowers that I like with little thought about where they will go or what they match. They get planted where there is room. I then move things constantly looking for the right combination.

My favorite bed is an empty one. I call it a clean slate and can put it together right!

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