Reality Check

“Reality Check”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Today was not a day to work in the garden.  The feel-like temperature was 105 degrees.  I went out early this morning and did a little fertilizing but that  was all.  Just doing that small job was enough to send me inside dripping.  I am starting to get frustrated that there are so many garden chores I want to finish, but the heat is stopping me.  Even working for one or two hours in the early morning is not enough to do everything I’ve planned.  I keep telling myself that some of these jobs can wait for cooler days, and next year I need to start in February, but that doesn’t seem to stop the frustration.  I want everything finished now.

Then, I had an epiphany.  I was going through some old magazines pulling out articles I wanted to keep when I saw a picture of a botanical garden.  It was beautiful.  Neat bed edges, mulched, weed free plantings, everything pretty-as-a-picture.  As I read the caption to one of the pictures the following words jumped out at me: “A staff of 25 gardeners keeps the pathways and plants in tip-top shape for visitors.” 

Twenty-five gardeners!  That’s my problem.  There is only one gardener here.  I need more people.  Maybe not twenty-five, but two more would be just about right since I don’t have fifty acres of gardens.  After considering the budget, it doesn’t look like there will be any hiring of under gardeners.  I’m lucky to get dear hubby to cut the grass (esp. in this heat).

But this does make me pause and consider how unrealistic our expectations can sometimes be.  My garden is looking fine, just not perfect.  Comparing a home garden where gardening is a hobby and part time work to a public garden with full time gardeners is not being realistic.  As I walk around my garden and decide that this whole section needs to be redone, I have to realize that I am not telling this to anyone else but solitary me.  No staff is available to carry out these ideas.  The plans I have for improvements or expansion of flower beds will need to taken a step at a time.

While it is always a good idea to visit botanical gardens, arboretums, or display gardens, it is important to realize that when you don’t have a group of assistants, you often have to take things slowly and enjoy the process, not just the final product.


  1. Niels said,

    July 13, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Gardens really are a process – one step of the time. It is about enjoying that process and working towards certain goals. I hate the heat too! At least it never gets to be more than 90F where I live.

  2. Jan said,

    July 13, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Niels, you are lucky with the temperatures. Down here the high temps plus high humidity makes gardening almost impossible unless it is very early in the morning or evening. I guess the hot summers where we don’t get much done is like the winter for Northern gardeners where the cold prevents gardening.

  3. July 13, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I was intrigued by your title. Reality checks are something we all need from time to time. We’re having a great gardening year in Oklahoma, but most years are hot and humid with little rain. If those photos are from your garden instead of the botanical garden, you are doing well indeed.~~Dee

  4. Jan said,

    July 13, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Oh, Dee, I wish those photos were from my garden. They are from the New Orleans Botanical Garden. If I had Trump’s money, I would spend it on having a garden like that.
    Glad to hear that you are having a great gardening season. We finally received over an inch of rain three days ago, and that has helped things perk up.

  5. Donna said,

    July 13, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I just learned for twelve million, you can have a classical Chinese garden like in Portland.

  6. Eve said,

    July 13, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I let my veggie garden start taking care of itself and just put a sprinkler on. It is 93 right now but it is only 1 pm…I’m not going out there. I live on the MS Gulf Coast, so I share your pain over the heat.
    Those are lovely flowers and if I could just get the DH over to New Orleans, I would love to see them. A shame to be this close and not go take a look. He hates the traffic and I don’t like to go by myself.

  7. Jan said,

    July 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Hey, Donna, I’m going to have to check that out. I’ve never thought of a classical Chinese garden, but, for that price, I may consider it.

    Eve, maybe when it is cooler weather, you will be able to talk your dh into taking a short trip to N.O. The traffic isn’t that bad.

  8. Brenda Kula said,

    July 13, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Amen! I’ve got to learn to watch what I put where, as I think you mentioned earlier. So I don’t have to water a little here and a little there. Could make the job easier on myself with a little more planning and a lot less rushing!

  9. Jan said,

    July 13, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, Brenda, with all this hot weather, we need to conserve our energy.

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