other people’s gardens

It’s a beautiful day today, the sun is shining and a light breeze is blowing. When we went down the road wait for the bus it was about 50 degrees. A perfect day for a long walk. As soon as I got Josh off to school I headed up the hill.

I took a slightly new route this time and I walked for just over an hour. My pedometer tells me I went 1.4 miles but Google maps says the route is 2.8 miles. Hmmm. I think I’ll believe Google this time thanks! I’m assuming since I was walking fast I was taking longer strides than what I set my pedometer for!

When I walk through neighborhoods I catch myself being a bit of a peeping tom. A typical nosy neighbor who can’t keep her eyes to herself. But it’s not people I’m looking at. (In fact the fewer people I see while I walk the happier I am.) It’s their plants, their trees, their landscape design that I’m checking out. Or lack thereof.

While I truck along I take it all in. Perfectly set rock gardens with phlox and alysum, mulched beds overflowing with gerberas and tulips, and shady spots filled with bleeding hearts and hostas. I love the big flowering trees, huge lilacs, and sweet weeping cherries. I wish I had space for all of them.

I have a soft spot for cute little japanese maples with delicate spidery red leaves. I had one at my old house and I loved it. I want one here but I haven’t figured out the perfect spot yet, and they’re expensive.

I glance a bit jealously at sunny yards, mine is so much shade. I envy the ease in which they can choose plants, everything is harder to grow on my lot and I have to carefully research what will survive here. But then I remember August and how my lawn will stay cool and green, if a bit mossy, while theirs will dry up in the heat. Maybe those people walk by my home and envy my towering pines and maples, even though they make my soil turn acid.

I keep going and I wonder at the houses with the neglected plants, weeds choking out the flowers, and overgrown bushes and dead limbs crowding my sight. Do the owners forget about it all out of hardship or just apathy? As I walk on by my brain can’t help but plan out their space. A rhododendron would be perfect here, a little trimming of the forsythia there, some grass seed to fill out the lawn.

Eventually I make it back to my own driveway. My critial eye takes in the stretch of land I work so hard on. I judge it harshly, but I remember how much worse looked when we first saw it a few years ago. I look at my thriving stonecrop and lilies and bee balm and I know I did that. I love the new butterfly bush and azaleas that I bought on mother’s day.

Other people’s gardens fascinate me, but I love my own little bit of earth.


12 Responses to “other people’s gardens”

  1. T with Honey on May 12th, 2009 1:25 pm

    Oh, dear. At least you didn’t take pictures during your walk. I’m sure I’d be mortified at what you’d have to say about my landscaping – or the hodgepodge that is my front yard.

    Going for a walk is a great way to get some inspiration. Plus I know your angst about the shade. It took me 8 years to figure out which plants will actually grow in my front yard. Now I just need to find the energy to finish the job.

    T with Honeys last blog post..Words sweeter than honey

  2. magpie on May 12th, 2009 1:46 pm

    I love this. It’s like you’re writing out of my head.

    magpies last blog post..Literalmindedness

  3. Meg on May 12th, 2009 1:57 pm

    I love seeing what other people do, too. Many of my plants are shoots from my mom, mil, sisters, friends. Very few I actually bought, and I love sharing now that they are getting more robust- need some daisies or bleeding heart?

    I want to see pictures of your bee balm and stone crop etc.

    Megs last blog post..Dealing With The Loss Of A Loved One

  4. we_be_toys on May 12th, 2009 2:21 pm

    “Other people’s gardens fascinate me, but I love my own little bit of earth.”

    Me too! I have some of the same issues as you do, with a yard that is more shade than sun. I finally got lavender to grow in my yard last year, after killing it every year for ever. We planted what has to be the smallest, scrappiest Japanese maple ever – I’m not even sure where the hub-man found it, maybe on the sale table?

    we_be_toyss last blog post..Work? On a day like today?

  5. Christy on May 12th, 2009 2:42 pm

    At least you’re peeping on the outside! I love to drive by people’s houses at night when their lights are on so I can see how they’ve decorated…that’s a little less innocent I guess!

    Christys last blog post..Learning My Lesson (One Of Them, Anyway)

  6. Musings of a Housewife on May 12th, 2009 4:48 pm

    Oh I LOVE looking at other people’s gardens!!

  7. mumma boo on May 13th, 2009 8:41 am

    I love looking at other people’s gardens, too. We’ve got some nice landscaping, but I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. If Mother Nature can’t take care of whatever grows in my yard, neither can I. 🙂

    mumma boos last blog post..30 by 40

  8. Deb on May 13th, 2009 9:25 am

    My dog walks me a lot in our neighborhood, and I love looking at gardens. I also like to look in windows at night if their lights are on and the curtains are open. I usually just see a TV’s blue light, but sometimes someone is washing dishes, or chasing a child, and it’s very sweet.

    It makes me feel like Harriet the Spy.

    Debs last blog post..Protecting My Endless Love

  9. Stimey on May 13th, 2009 7:17 pm

    We neglect them out of apathy.

    At least I do.

    Stimeys last blog post..To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate…

  10. kristen on May 13th, 2009 8:05 pm

    I hear that! I’m always checking out gardens, either envying them or re-landscaping them in my head. I still have so much work to do in my own little yard but I’m so proud of what I’ve done all by myself. There is nothing like seeing those plants rise up out of the earth and unfurl a little more each warm day!

    kristens last blog post..fashion (not so) fast forward

  11. book gluttony | Catnip and Coffee on May 14th, 2009 3:38 pm

    […] it’s fun to get a glimpse into other people’s reading habits, as much as into their gardens! Yep, I’m […]

  12. Pregio on May 18th, 2009 10:33 am

    Japanese maples aren’t too expensive if you buy young ones (and are prepared to wait for them to grow!). Just need a bit of protection til they are established.

    Pregios last blog post..Ommobili di prestigio

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