The Constant (but Reluctant) Gardener

The wonderful thing about home ownership is the opportunity to cultivate a beautiful landscape around your house. Or so I used to think so.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest over a dozen years ago from the Midwest, we saw firsthand the awesome natural beauty this part of the country has. In addition to the fantastic, varied terrain, the plethora of fauna that grow in this part of the country is unbelievable. At our home in Minnesota you basically had just a handful of choices regarding what to plant, and usually that meant one of those had to be a Hosta.  Things didn’t grow very fast there, so you had to be in it for the long haul if you wanted to see any results.

But here in Oregon, the plant and flower choices seem to be endless. I was in gardening heaven when we bought our home here. Even though the house was a few years old, the previous owners hadn’t ever gotten around to doing any landscaping, which meant we had a blank canvas with which to design our Xanadu.

We hired a landscape architect and together created a blueprint that featured all manner of flowers, trees, deciduous plants and evergreen shrubs. We then spent countless hours perusing garden centers, nurseries, and Home Depot looking for those identified plants to make our landscaping complete.  We purchased many rhododendrons, azaleas, and Japanese maples after noticing their gorgeous flowers in our area. We included several camellia bushes after seeing how beautiful our neighbor’s hundred-year-old camellia was. We even planted a magnolia tree in the front yard. And like any gardener worth their salt, it was a must that we purchase the holy bible of gardening books for the Pacific Northwest—the vaunted Western Garden Book. It’s 768 pages are filled with exotic and not-so-exotic species that I spent many-a-night pouring over to find the perfect specimens.

Weekend after weekend I carefully planted, and each shovel dug into the ground came with it a dream of a beautiful, healthy plant reaching for the sun and completing our vision for the perfect yard.

All Grown Up

Looking up at yellow houseFast forward 13 years. Those oh-so-carefully thought-out plants have grown up. Some have come and gone, not being able to stand the compacted clay soil that our property was endowed with. But the majority have grown high and wide, to the point of being unwieldy and menacing. Yes, I said it—menacing. I swear a climbing rose bush we planted had a mind of its own and routinely attacked me any time I walked within a few feet of it. It must have known I hated it and wanted it gone. The azaleas got too big and had to be moved to the shaded backyard in an effort to stunt their growth (it hasn’t worked.) The magnolia is beautiful, but it’s a bear to get the mower underneath its long, sloping branches. (And for my efforts, I typically get a face full of cobwebs.) The Japanese maples are threatening to engulf the entirety of the front of our house. We can’t even look out our windows anymore without it getting blocked by branches that grow exponentially during the hot summer days. And with everything blooming, my wife’s allergies go into high gear (at least that’s the excuse she gives for not helping out in the garden.)

And, after all these years, I just don’t have the energy to fight the good fight and stay ahead of these plants and their yearning desire to take over our property. I concede the victory to them. They have defeated me. Now, when I pass by new homes with freshly planted shrubs and trees, I chuckle to myself, thinking about what those owners have in store for themselves in a few years.  Should I tell them their fate? I think not.

About the Author: Derek Hines

About the Author: Derek Hines

Digital Marketing Specialist

Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Digital Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.