A Smart Gardener?


I’ve been trying to seriously garden for over thirty years and I am astonished at how much I still need to learn. Sometimes my brain goes blank and I cannot think of even the common name for a plant and I embarrass myself when trying to pronounce the Latin names.

It pains me to admit this, but I am overly optimistic when it comes to my gardens. I force sun-lovers to grow in part shade; I used to expect plants to grow in our nasty clay soil (I know better, now); I order too many plants from the nursery catalogs; I get downright giddy-stupid-silly when spring planting season gets here. But, occasionally, only occasionally, I do something smart.

Last year, I dumped my grass clippings and the leaves I picked up with the lawn mower where I wanted to start a new bed. Knowing my Wonderful Husband pretty well by this time, I sited the bed around a large tree and by the driveway. He gets somewhat upset with me if I want to take any of his precious lawn, but will grudgingly accept a new bed if it doesn’t encroach too much on the grass. I also try hard to contour the edges so that the riding mower can navigate the curves easily (see what a loving, considerate wife I am?)

Being right underneath a large tree meant the new bed was going to be a shade bed, with only a foot or two on the south side which could be considered part-shade – if you were being charitable.

Did I have a clue what I was going to plant there? Of course not. But, during the growing season, when we go to a different town we try to find really cool garden centers. Our son and daughter-in-law live in a St. Louis suburb and we found a real doozy of a garden center there! Can you say “credit card meltdown”?

Like starving people at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet, we loaded up two great, big beautiful, glossy green Dyce’s Holly Ferns (Polystichum x Dycei) (see photo); a parsley fern (Cryptogramma crispa), an American Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pendatum), a huge cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), and an equally large Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Please believe me when I say that Wonderful Husband actually bought more than I did – REALLY!

When we got home, I knew where these beauties were going – my new, empty bed. Wonderful Husband laid a nice block edge around the new bed and I transplanted astilbes and a previously unhappy rhododendron to the new bed. They all did very well this summer, when we had rain nearly every day. I was very proud of myself that I actually planted them in the right spot.

I was really congratulating myself – good job, girlfriend! Then, the rain stopped…Mother Nature turned off the spigot. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time we’ve had a decent rain. I nearly lost my beautiful cinnamon fern. Note to self: don’t forget to water!

You know the best part? I get to buy MORE plants next Spring!

Meet Dona Bergman

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