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Why it takes so long to get things done in my garden

What a difference a week makes! Last week my garden stood frozen and hushed under a layer of snow. Now the weather is warm and the garden juices are flowing in plants and gardener alike. The drab browns and grays of winter are still here but are about to give way to the exuberance of spring. Look at these photos of my lady garden, taken exactly seven days apart.

With the warmer air and sunshine, my goal yesterday was to spread fifty pounds of composted cow manure around the hellebores in my garden. I should have done this weeks ago, but the recent cold wet weather has prevented me. It took me six hours. The job could easily have been done in one hour, or less if I hurried. This is what happened:

I went around back to the carport to get the wheelbarrow. I put two twenty-five pounds of manure in the wheelbarrow and started pushing it, aiming for a patch of hellebores next to the patio on the opposite side of the house. I went about ten feet and noticed a rock planter by the drive. I was thrilled that the lavender I had planted here had survived our soggy winter, but it was covered up with weeds. I bent over and pulled a few of the weeds, then decided to go ahead and pull all of them. 

That's much better! I bet that lavender could use some of this cow manure.

So I opened one bag and scooped some of the rich, dark stuff into a trowel and worked it into the soil around the lavender. I made a mental note: Buy more lavender.

I then pushed the wheelbarrow around the corner of the house and spied the large planter across the front with lemon thyme growing in it. 

Well, if it's good for the lavender, it's good for the thyme.

So  spent the next few minutes working cow manure around the thyme plants

I had better water this in.

I got the hose and watered the front planter, then put water in a watering can and walked back to the first planter with the lavender and watered that, too.

I pushed the wheelbarrow a couple feet and noticed some weeds growing into a shrub. So I stopped and pulled them. There were quite a few. This took about thirty minutes. I carried the weeds to the brush pile behind the house and dumped them.

I was getting closer to the hellebores now, but stopped to put some manure around a potted dwarf Alberta spruce. I eyed some shrubs growing nearby and decided they could use some, too. After that, I pulled the hose to this area and watered everything I had manured.

Really, all of these plants in pots on the patio need fertilizing.

So I did that and watered them, as well.

Okay. At last the first group of hellebores was right in front of me!

But I'm hungry. I need a snack first!

I went into the house and ate a muffin and drank some milk. Lou was there and asked me to sign some papers. I did that and headed back outside.

I looked at the hellebores.

What a mess. All these dead leaves are terrible.

I got the pruners and snipped the ratty foliage off the hellebores. Then I got the rake and gently raked all the oak leaves and other debris that had fallen into the hellebore bed during the winter.

That's better. Hmm, I'd better go ahead and rake all this stuff off these bricks while I'm at it.

I began raking the leaves and noticed moss growing on the bricks under the leaves. I pulled at it, and it easily peeled off the bricks in sheets.

The moss path! This will be perfect to transplant to those bare areas of my moss path!

So I made multiple trips to the woodland garden, where I happily laid sheets of moss and stepped on it.

That's an easy transplant job. But look at that. My weeping blue cedar has some dead branches at the bottom. It needs to be limbed up. That plant sure has grown. It's beginning to look like a tree!

I went to the back of the house and got the loppers and then returned to the woodland garden, where I limbed up the cedar and the blue spruce next to it. I hauled the cut branches to the brush pile. Garden the cat, who does not belong to me, saw me and came running. She hopped onto the woodland garden bench, expecting me to visit with her. She was covered up with leaves and pieces of pine straw. 

"What have you been doing?" I asked. "Rolling in the hay?" 

I sat down and she climbed into my lap. I picked all the leaves and pine straw out of her fur. I turned her onto her back and looked at her belly, to make sure she wasn't pregnant. Garden was offended at this and hopped down. 

"See you later," I called to her as she trotted off in a huff.

Okay, I have got to fertilize those hellebores.

I returned to the hellebores. I had raked a large pile of leaves onto the patio, so I decided to get rid of these first. I emptied the manure bags out of the wheelbarrow and piled the leaves into it. I pushed the wheelbarrow to the brush pile and dumped the leaves. On the way back I stopped at the herb bed. Weeds were sprouting and multiplying as I stood watching them.

So I weeded the entire herb bed.

Wow. The sun is getting low! I have got to fertilize those hellebores!

I finally returned to the job I had set out to do. I scooped manure around each plant and watered them. I put the remaining bag of manure into the wheelbarrow and then headed for a group of hellebores next to the lady garden.

Don't look over there! Just do what you got to do. The sun is about to go down!

I diligently spread the manure around this group of hellebores, then made several trips with the watering can to water them. The sky was turning pink as I returned the wheelbarrow to the carport and put up my other garden tools.

And that is why it takes me so long to get anything done in my garden.

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Reader Comments (21)

This sounds exactly like me! lol

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Deborah, I have two things to say: first, you are a hard-working person, second, you have a lot of manure! Good for you!

February 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

Deborah, what a wonderful post! You had me smiling all the way through :) I too get very distracted by this and that in the garden, but am not half as productive as you in responding to the distractions!

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

A completely accurate description of any productive (ha!) day in a garden. So true. So very very true.

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

You forgot to mention long moments of Creative Staring. Maybe you don't do that? I think we all relate to distractions.

Most importantly, the hellebores did get fertilized, tools put away and photos taken.

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

I enjoyed the laugh this morning because I can definitely relate to your gardening. :)

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy /Go Away, I'm Gardening!

I couldn't help but laugh. I'm constantly kicking myself for getting distracted in the garden, and some days I look back and wonder why x task, or y task STILL isn't done! Sometimes I wonder what I do all day in the garden. At least your hellebores did finally get fertilized!

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

This is so funny and so true for me also! Great post, Deb. For a moment I thought that those hellebores will never get that manure...

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervrtlaricaana

All that pent up energy and planning for warmer weather while staying inside has to go somewhere. Working in the garden is a great stress releaver. I'm glad to hear that springtime is coming around for you. Enjoyed your post !

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersanddune

Snap! This is exactly what happens to me too ... hubbie wonders why it takes me so long to do the little jobs I say I'm about to do!!! Great blog ... had a great giggle all the way through. Well at least you had a very productive day out there!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Deborah this happens to me all the time!!!! But you got the job finished. I would love to see pictures of the freshly extended moss path and the helleborus. Now that spring is there, hopefully it will get its butt in gear and head my way.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah at Kilbourne Grove

Yup, you sound like me indeed. I love your woodland garden. I think you commented on my native plant post? When I clicked on your name it gave me no information and I'm like wow, this is weird. Went to Blotanical and found you are one of my faves so I've obviously been here before. It was that Japanese maple post. I remember it and so love those maples. They are a favorite here and it is actually my signature plant. Not so many named cultivars here but lots of them nonetheless. I really love your woodland garden. The mix of the conifers with the great path, fothergilla and everything is beautiful! I have a very small one. No conifer like your spruce? in it. Such a pretty mix. Anyhow, I think this is the right Deb and if not that's fine because I enjoyed this post. I have the same issue-one thing after another grabs me. I kind of have to just focus on ONE goal and stick to it until it is done in order to get anything done. After that I'm usually done in. The lavender and thyme will love the compost.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertina

It's called "circular gardening" - you start at one point and work your way around until you return to where you started. Lol!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

I love it! I can never just go out and do the planned job, I'm always distracted by something else, just like you described. I like what Liza described it as, "circular gardening"!
Now not only are your Hellebores going to be happy, but so are all the plants you stopped to work on along the way.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Hi Deb~~ Yep. A girl after my own heart. I think a person needs to be a tiny bit obsessive compulsive accomplish great things in the garden. It might take a long time to get things done but look at ALL THE THINGS you got done. Something tells me you slept like a baby that night.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Oh, you are a gardener after my own heart. I often go out to accomplish one thing, but then end up doing countless tasks in the garden. I am glad you got the manure down in the end ;^)

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle (azplantlady)

LOL, that sounds like me, except the work part. I can head into another room to do something, then forget what I came in there to do before I get there.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Those are the best reasons ever for a job taking 6 hours to do! Wasn't it a grand day and didn't you feel good when the sun finally went down...That's what so fantastic about gardening~gail your garden is beautiful...I love the arbor.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergail

I am anxiously looking forward to many days like yours but I'll have to wait a while longer ... it's snowing on my CT gardens again.

February 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoene

But look at all you accomplished!!

I have not had much luck with lavender so far. I bought a bunch of very cold hardy lavender last year and made sure to plant it in WELL DRAINED soil in a very sunny spot. Crossing my fingers!

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSylvana

Yes indeed, I know the feeling. I go out to do one thing, and before you know it, the sun is setting and I've half done a dozen things and finished none!

February 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Idiot Gardener

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