To know me is to know I enjoy gardening. But this summer I took up a big challenge: attending the garden beds in front of my apartment building.
Over the years, the Pachysandra became scrappy and the area wasn't helped by all the dog owners who allowed their best friends to use the space as a doggy loo. Combine that with my building's tight budget that set aside a paltry amount to spend on landscaping, and you have the picture. So I, along with another resident, both our husbands, as well as our terrific building super, rolled up those proverbial sleeves and got working.
Or more specifically, digging.
Over several days spread out in May, June and July (whenever a few hours could be spared in our schedules), we planted over 75 perennial plants -- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.) -- and lined the beds with a low-growing, spreading Juniper (Juniperus conferta) in the hopes that it will not only be attractive but also keep the dogs out thanks to prickly needles. On a hot June morning, we also planted heaven only knows how many Marigolds and Impatiens!
With the addition of compost and mulch, the plants are settling in nicely.
Hard but rewarding work, yes, though it was the unexpected surprises that made this a most memorable gardening experience.
Chatting with neighbors and passersby was always pleasant, particularly since everyone showed such interest in our work and showered us with thanks. During our May afternoon planting sessions, kids from the nearby grade school had plenty of questions and I was amazed by the plant and insect knowledge several of them showed. We particularly enjoyed talking with a woman who, while on a visit from her home in D.C., stopped by to see our building -- the same one she grew up in during the 1950s and 60s!
One of my favorite treats was talking with Sophia, an adorable girl on the 5th floor. She likes to garden too and helped spread mulch as she gave the plants names ("Suzy" the Black-eyed Susan).
But the greatest pleasure is to see -- in general -- how respectful people are of our new garden. Even the dog owners.