A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, Featuring The Italian Renaissance Garden exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful day which, around these parts has become an increasingly rare occurrence. So it was but natural that I’d want to meander my way around the well known perennial gardens.
Everything looked healthy and robust. No leaves hung in various states of attack by pests. No plant lay prostrate gasping their last due to thirst and sheer negligence. No weeds poked maddeningly through the resplendent plants. All was as it should be. Just as I envision my own garden in the torrid month of August. However, as I wandered casually around these lush beds, my mind kept receiving images of my garden in its actual condition. Some evil gremlin was transmitting shots of my plants looking limp, disheveled and hungry, facing an advancing infantry of weeds in brilliant Roman formations, with squadrons of Japanese beetles standing by to strike amidst shock and awe. It was disconcerting at the very least.
Why can’t my garden look this healthy at this time of year? I kept asking myself this question as though I was expecting the answer to show up like graffiti on the large, slug free leaves of the happy hostas. So lost was I in my dissatisfied thoughts that I almost tripped over a water hose snaking all over the paths and being directed by an NYBG employee. And there was my answer!
First and foremost, unlike the NYBG, I do not have a cadre of helpers working round the clock on my garden. I work on many other things in addition to the garden. Which naturally means neither garden nor the other things ever turn out perfect. My help is sporadic and that too from semi-reluctant family members. Then, I’ve long made the choice ( took the high road so to speak) to not coddle my garden with watering. I only water plants in pots while those in the ground are expected to search out ground water and make it on their own. This eliminates fuss-pot plants. Only the truly hardy survive. As far as possible, collected rain water is used for the pots. Water used on the vertical garden is recirculated so excess does not go to waste. So there. After all, anybody can just keep pouring vast quantities of water but is that good practice in today’s water endangered/challenged world? Aha!
Feeling a bit better about matters at home, I spent the rest of my visit duly consoled and able to fully appreciate the sheer mastery of design in creating these beautiful gardens. The brilliant selection of plants, the play of color, shapes and continued seasonal interest. I bowed my head. I was in the presence of greatness.
When I returned home, I gave thanks to my garden for putting up with my rather hands-off style of gardening. Like children who turn out okay despite negligent parents, my garden is doing just fine.
Feel free to drool over these photos taken at the NYBG:
P.S. The Wild Medicine exhibit is on till September 8. Get to it if you can! For details :www.nybg.org
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar