The Not-So-Secret Garden

The Not-So-Secret Garden

I will never forget the day we moved to the suburbs. I was 8 months pregnant with our second child Sam, and for various reasons, needed to leave our awesome 2 bedroom loft in Roscoe Village. Really, a loft with two kids was NOT do-able if we wanted to preserve what little sanity we had after having one baby there.

Not only were we completely freaked out over this new and foreign terrain, but were relatively ill prepared.

After the movers left and we exhausted ourselves, both Scott and I took a nap with our then almost two year old, Zoe, when suddenly, we were awakened by a strange noise next door.

It was loud.

What is that? We pondered until I looked out the window.

It was a lawn mower.

Oh yeah. We now have a lawn to mow.

I had moved to Chicago right after college, and lived there for nearly 15 years. A lush green lawns was completely foreign to me my entire adult life.

Shit. We need a lawn mower.

The previous owners had plotted out a two-foot edging all around our back yard which they used for various plants like roses, large bushy things, and ground cover. When I met them, I asked what type of bushes they planted in front of the house, and he told me they were "green" ones.

I knew then that I was in for one hell of a learning curve if I were to keep these myriad plants alive.

I suddenly was faced with a sprawling yard to mow and gardens full of plants. I've never gardened in my entire life, but I took botany in college, so I should be able to handle this, right?

That first summer, I had Sam. The garden would have to wait until I was no longer sleep deprived. That next spring, I plotted out the tulips, crocuses and other spring bloomers before planting any new plants. Soon summer was once again upon us, Sam was 1, and I could literally start digging in (see, I literally used literally correctly there. Take note!)

I bought a gardening book at a garage sale and keyed out as many plants as I could so I could learn how to tend them. (Yes, nerd status, fully intact.)

The first to go was the ground cover, which I am sure once covered only a small portion of the garden, but was now strangling out multiple plants. Like a fool, I was nervous about killing all of those poor plants I wanted to keep, so I got in there on my hands and knees and dug out that evil plant by the roots, until I cleared off a huge portion of the garden, leaving those sickly plants to reclaim their space.

I'd also like to report that the kids get right in there and help me. They don't. They will plant things and weed things, but that's it. "Hey! Who wants to put these new plants in the ground with me?" I cheerfully ask."Nah." Is always the answer. Pooh heads.

Today, I know names like Dianthus, Columbine, and Delphinium, and even how to nurture these plants so they want to come back and visit us again next year. It's very therapeutic, keeping that garden healthy.

I eschew annuals in the garden, because it's too much work each year, but I do have them in flower pots.

A lot of time and energy has been spent over those few years and now I feel that my garden rocks. I have mostly native, butterfly attracting plants, but I still have trouble with milkweed. It's a weed, for crying out loud, and grows in the wild, why won't it take to my welcoming garden? I have only ONE this year!

**Author's Note: upon my last walk through the garden- there were 3 milkweed growing. I jumped up and down. Add the fact that our cherry tree finally has 2 (2!) cherries growing and I am in hog heaven!**

Next, I have to figure out how to get rid of those pesky Japanese beetles that love the ivy on the side of my house.

Ay, Mama!

Filed under: Suburbs

Tags: gardening, suburbs

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