Personal – In Bloom


Hydrangea before pruning

In Bloom | What do you buy vs. make yourself?  We’re talking food items and recipes, but also crafts, home decor, personal items, etc…  Do you have any specialties?

So, obviously I cook – I’ve got an entire section of this blog dedicated to the more focused and interesting things that I make.  I cook what I think of as “dumb” things for myself that end up being pasta, rice, quinoa that are quick and I basically add a few spices and toppings to make it a “meal”, but I don’t post those because they’re not really recipes.  I knit.  Again I’ve shown you a couple projects, and I’ve got a couple others on the back burners that have been delayed because of moving, and also the weather getting warm (I’m a bizarre creature who tends to knit WAY MORE when it’s cold).  I’m learning to sew – I’ve got an old sewing machine, and have done some basic things, but it jammed a few years back and I need to pull it out and tackle it again.  I decorate my house, but I’m not doing it in a particularly inspired way despite the number of DIY home decorating/home improvement blogs that I read.

But today I’m going to go for a more literal interpretation of this prompt – what is a thing that I do myself that’s in bloom?  Right now, it’s gardening.

So we bought our house, and for the first time in many years, I’m not living in an apartment.  I have outdoor space that belongs to me, and needs to be maintained.  Theoretically, we could hire someone to do all the yardwork and not just mow the very small patch of lawn.  No…I wanted to do at least some of it myself.  It’s not that hard – right?  In fact, soon after we moved in, my parents came to visit, and I showed them the plants, including a hydrangea that I was super excited about (they are one of my favorite flowers).  My dad proceeded to tell me what I should do to trim it back, and I … had a busy month.  Things came up, I forgot to buy garden shears, the weather was terrible.  There was no time.

Hydrangea after pruning

Until this weekend!  By this weekend, the gardening shears had arrived, and there was time for me and a clear day on the weather forecast, so I dressed in my “work” jeans, grabbed a pair of sunglasses and my headphones so I could listen to podcasts while I worked, and headed out to do gardening stuff.  First job was the hydrangea bush, and the before shot is the first one at the top of this post.  After the talk with my dad and some googling, it seemed that the best thing to do would be to cut the old dried blooms back to the nearest place where the stem split to green shoots.  And then while I was in there (because I climbed into and behind the bush to reach it all), I decided to trim back the woody stems which had now new growth (this was based on my googling which said that hydrangeas like to be trimmed back).  In any case, it may not be quite the right time in the season to do any of this, but I hate to leave a poor plant that had been abandoned for months with what amounts to a terrible haircut, and to just let it suffer all summer.  Better to give it the plant equivalent of a buzz cut.

Rosemary choked with weeds

Next up was weeding.  This was the thing about the house that had begun to embarrass me most.  We’re not on a busy road, but there are a fair number of people who walk past on a regular basis – especially on the weekends.  These weeds had sprung up since we bought the place, and were just taking over everything.  You could hardly tell that there were supposed to be other plants there at all!

Weeds choking a rosebush

Saddest of all were the weeds that had invaded my rose bushes.  These roses had been a pleasant surprise that made me feel like a fancy lady.  I mean – I grow roses now.  Who does that except people who are fancy and good at gardening (the answer right now is me).  But the best way to look like you have no idea what you’re doing with roses is to let the weeds get so bad that they are growing INSIDE the bush.  It’s like a horror movie where the call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE, but with weeds, and I’m the one who finds the dead bodies of my poor baby flowers, all choked.

Rosemary plant and small flowers

Luckily, I do not live in a (gardening) horror movie, and instead pulled it all out.  Weeding is so satisfying – identifying the plants that do not belong (are they a foot taller than everything around them?  Have a wheat stalk thing at the top?  Do they look like dandelions?  Do they not look like they are growing in a purposeful way?), pulling them out gently by the roots so that it all comes out, or else yanking them out forcefully when they do not budge.  Retrieving worms who had been helping their soil, and replacing them in the newly cleared bed where they should do good work.

Weeded rose bush

I mean…scroll up and compare this to what was there before.  Don’t you feel like you can breathe now?  Like things will be ok?  The power that I exert as the one pulling out the weeds is intense – I decide what goes and what will stay (what will live and what will die?).  And yes – we had a giant pile of weed debris – so big that it filled 4 paper grocery bags.  I also had a large Amazon box full of sticks and old hydrangea blooms that will go out with the trash, but set aside as yard waste (see what your county or city does by using the search terms “Yard Waste [FILL IN COUNTY OR CITY NAME]”).


But that’s it.  I’m now a gardener – I’m a person with a garden who cares for it and helps her plants to thrive.  I know there are still a few weeds that I missed over the weekend.  And there are lots of spots on our bricked areas that need to have the little weeds pulled out and to be sprayed with some kind of DIY-envinronmentally-friendly weed killer…but that’s a plan for another day.  At some point, I’d like to do raised beds.  To have tomatoes or hanging flowering plants coming off of our fence that gets such good light.  But that’s something to think about for the future, and for now, I’ll just enjoy the things that are already in bloom.

Details: This post is part of Project Reverb 2016, which sends out monthly (and sometimes daily during a month-long challenge) writing prompts for bloggers.  If you’re interested in participating, sign up here.

2 Comment

  1. Nicole says: Reply

    I can attest that your garden looks awesome 🙂 I noticed the birds were lovin’ it, too.
    You should totally consider DIYing some rain barrels to catch all that water coming off your roof, which you can use to water your plants! (or wash your cars). And if you get really ambitious, you could even set up a compost station (you’ve got the room), in your backyard. Though I was curious what Alexandria did with their yard waste and followed that link and saw that they actually have a compost drop-off program?! With a location in Del Rey! That is pretty sweet.

    1. maggie says: Reply

      I think rain barrels are part of the plan eventually, but that’ll have to go along with the gutter repair when it happens. Compost will happen too…when there’s actually yard to put it in.

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