Garden Despair: Ugh

Over the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, I came down with an evil virus from which I am just now recovering. It was an upper respiratory thing that involved laryngitis and a lot of coughing. I have used lots of sick leave, first completely out of the office, then taking short days once I returned after a week of telework. As soon as the doctor said this was something going around since February, I asked how long it would last. His answer was that the baseline was three to four weeks. Ugh. I’m beginning the fifth week now and finally feeling truly on the mend.


The roses and flower border a few weeks back, with the old fence.

The result is a garden full of weeds. My gardening neighbor, Alex, and her son Harry weeded for me a couple weeks ago, so it was less of a weed patch yesterday when I got into it than it might have been.


Weeds. I’m pulling them sitting down. The untrampled squash plants are coming along nicely.

The really distressing thing was that (hooray) we got a new higher fence from the county. This in itself, I’m grateful for. On the other hand, I think I have more linear feet of fence line than anyone and the fencers trampled and flattened my flower borders, probably killed at least one of my old rose plants, and somehow managed to trample some squash plants well inside the garden.


What a mess, huh?

Had I not been sick, I might have been able to get in there and save some things by propping them up. Instead, most of the border began to compost in the heat, so yesterday, slowly, saving my energy, I pulled out a lot of dead stuff that was slimy and smelly underneath. I can’t even think about the outside border yet, and nobody from the county had better complain about the way the sidewalk border looks. I miss being able to cut flowers for the house, but on the other hand, I picked up a boatload of wildflower seed at an eco-festival a few weeks ago, so once I weed and do a little soil prep on the outside border, I can throw those seeds down for a crop of blossoms next year.


The flower border and roses after I cut and hauled the trampled slimy stuff. I’m hoping the oregano patch will come back.

I was able to harvest lots of kale and all my garlic. The chard and parsley are coming along nicely, given our cold spring turned suddenly hot.


Ah, garlic! It’s drying in my kitchen now, which smells strongly of…garlic! Luckily I’ve got the windows open.

I was surprised by my tomatoes, which are growing beautifully and have some young tomatoes coming on. Jane taught me how to sucker them. She has been taking care of the tomatoes in the small Plot Against Hunger garden, which also lost its flower border.


Large Plot Against Hunger garden after weeding a couple weeks ago.

Our big outside plot kept its spectacular sidewalk border, but got damage to all our carefully transplanted rudbeckia and the rose, which we propped back up yesterday. Grapevines and raspberry canes were demolished as well, but otherwise, this large outside garden got a good, much needed weeding and its squashes and lettuce, carrots and beets looked pretty good, all told.


Large garden border yesterday.

I’m usually not this disgusted and hopeless about a garden until August weather has at it. Luckily, by the end of my work yesterday I felt like the inside might just be manageable; I would just have to accept that it wouldn’t happen at my usual energetic speed. So I’m thinking maybe by end of July (right before August has at it), I might have my usual garden back, without the flowers, of course, but, gardens always teach you that 1) there are surprises, and 2) you can’t have everything!


Thriving, untrampled crops before their thorough weeding yesterday.

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40 Responses to Garden Despair: Ugh

  1. My heart goes out to you, Lisa. The best thing about this post is the reassurance that you yourself are now on the mend. This reminds me of a time when workmen putting a new roof on our house in Boston really did a number on all the flowers and herbs we had planted around the edges, ruining so many of the things we had nurtured and coddled that it felt like Sisyphus looking at that boulder and hill again. If it ain’t the wabbits it’ll be something else eh? The best laid plans and all that. But of course you’re right…nature is full of surprises. Ultimately you will likely be grateful for that sturdy new fence. And I hope you will be pleasantly surprised by the way plants will recoup…..maybe even in the strewn wildflower seeds, with something beautiful for you to pick… There’s still a lot of summer left..Bon courage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks so much, Cynthia. I do feel on the mend. The situation did seem Sisyphean until I broke it down. Now it’s just BIG. And while I like a bit of wildness in a garden, I dislike disorder, so one problem is seeing it such a mess and knowing it will take a while. But I’m getting used to the idea, and later this summer as the crops come on, I think we’ll be very happy for the fence.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a serious fence isn’t it! I imagine that will stop the leaners and the leapers from clandestinely helping themselves and maybe even the bunnies……. But it’s not all the way round? Isn’t it typical of bureaucracy to wait til everything is up before coming in to trample down? Bless them and their ticked boxes – and in a years time it will be grand. Gardening teaches us about time doesn’t it! Glad to hear you are on the mend, that sounds like a nasty virus. Take care and drink lots of water xo


    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Pauline. We’ve needed a taller fence for some time, and I imagine the county had some money left over from something and contracted for it–the timing being about money and not necessarily gardening. I do feel as though I can probably work away at the mess for short periods over the next couple weeks. We’ll see. Next spring we start over!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. starkwe says:

    Oh, what a shame to lose a rose! I’m sorry you’ve been feeling bad, but glad to hear you’re on the mend.


  4. LB says:

    Goodness, Lisa, what a long illness! I’m glad you are finally seeing your health return, only to have the good news / bad news about the fence.
    Continue to heal, my friend, and hopefully the garden will as well


  5. Eliza Waters says:

    How awful for you to endure that long illness, Lisa. Then having to deal with a trampled garden full of weeds. Ach! Too bad they didn’t put up the fence when everything was dormant. But at least it was cost-free, if not damage-free. Is there a farmer’s market to supply flowers and veggies for you that you can’t grow?


    • arlingwoman says:

      The farmer’s market isn’t really an alternative to the grocery store here, as it charges what the market will bear, which is a lot in Arlington. I get things in season and fresh that it’s not possible to get elsewhere (peaches, for instance), but generally avoid it ($15 flowers, for instance). I may be able to garner some from fellow gardeners as well as the large plot border. I think I’ll still have good crops if the weather be good, though, so I should be okay with produce, if I can get the plants weeded!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lisa, I was thinking about you today as I sat in the garden, wondering if I had missed a post. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been down for the count. That is a long time to be ill. I had the flu over twenty years ago, and remember how it sapped my energy. I too missed a lot of work, and tried to go back twice before I really had the strength. I completely get what you’re going through. You’ll get your energy back. I’m glad you’re taking it slowly for now.

    As for the fence, ack, what timing. I’m happy to hear it is finally up, but it would have been nice to see the work done in early spring or fall. Ah well. It’s done now and you still have July and August and of course next year.

    I hope you continue to recovery without any relapse. I hope, too, that the new fence keeps the trouble at bay.


    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Alys. I think the timing of the fence had more to do with sudden availability of money that had to be spent than any thoughts of the garden. Nonetheless, I’m glad it’s there now. I think it may be a deterrent to veggie thieves.


  7. So sorry to read this, Lisa. Jackie, in particular, identifies with you. We both commiserate. It is a wonder you have kept up with my posts.


  8. KerryCan says:

    I was wondering if you had been ill–you seemed to be posting so infrequently, it being gardening season and all! I’m awfully glad to hear that you’ve turned a corner–I know how demoralizing it is to sit and think about all the work that needs to be done, but not be able to do it. And I’ve always been dismayed by how little builders and workers seem to care about the stuff they step on while they work. I guess the bright side is that all those growing things want to live and nature is resilient.

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Kerry. I’m hoping with a little bit of work in the evenings to get things back to normal. I like to go hammer and tongs and finish things, but up to now, that hasn’t been possible, so I’ll keep taking it slow.


  9. Laurie Graves says:

    So sorry that you’ve been ill, especially during this gardening time of year. In December, I had what you had, and it was no fun at all. I coughed myself silly, and at one point I thought I might have broken a rib. Luckily, it was just a pulled muscle. Glad you are on the mend.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Lisa, so sorry to hear you’ve been ill for so long! I caught a similar bug back in October that took interminably long to clear up. I feel your pain 😦

    As for your garden, what a mixed bag! Blessings for the new fence, but more work for you at a time when you don’t need it. Then again, you and tilling of the soil go hand-in-hand and I know your garden will thrive beautifully once again under your care.

    Here’s to healthier days ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was wondering where you were, good to have you back! But poor thing, so ill and miserable. Ugh indeed. The garden needs TLC for sure but I have no doubt that you and your fellow gardeners will get it right again! Eat lots of kale and tomatoes for vit C!!!xo Johanna


  12. Oh man! So sorry to hear you’ve been so ill, but very glad you’re on the mend now ! To me the garden still looks lovely, and I’m sure you’ll work away at it until it reaches it’s former glory again 🙂 at least it is a great fence! 🙂


  13. So very glad you’re feeling better!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. reocochran says:

    Hard to like your being sick. I was glad to hear you are finally healing and getting stronger, Lisa. Sorry I didn’t tell you get well when it first started. I have heard people getting strep or flu and it hanging on this spring and even, this summer.
    I have missed a few weeks of posts. We have had long 10 and 11 hour days. Then was off at my Mom’s senior living apartment building. Would start something for her, cleaning or laundry and then get sidetracked!
    Best wishes for garden and especially you!


  15. Maria F. says:

    Gorgeous flowers, weeds, part of life!


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