The Non-Gardener

That’s what I am, a non-gardener. I’m not one to kneel among the weeds, pulling them out one by one, nor one to enjoy planting. I just want flowers to appear magically and remain beautiful throughout the growing season – no planting – no weeds – no work.

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade…”    Rudyard Kipling

Frankly, I think those who do love gardening are wise. It takes them outdoors in the fresh air, and, as the cliché goes, “busy hands are happy hands”. The mind is free to soar from place to place while the seeds, bulbs, and plants get placed and covered with mulch. From time to time weeds are pulled. The garden eventually blooms. It’s a creative effort. It’s a product. It’s rewarding – but I don’t do it.

 “It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.”   Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

Hilary, before the garden, 1994

Back in 1994, when the house was barely complete, my daughter Hilary and her husband, Bill, came out here for a short vacation. We weren’t out here, so they surprised us by staining the outside of the house, and Hilary gathered rocks and made a semi-circular low wall around the buttresses in the front as a start for a little garden. These buttresses, by the way, are not there for any artistic purposes but to provide the support to the dome structure which was lost by removing the struts for the carport.

Hilary’s effort called for a garden. I took up the challenge. I collected more rocks from all over and made a wall perching my rocks rather willy-nilly on top of her beginnings. It ended up not even being a perfect semi-circle; nothing a professional wall builder would be proud of, although I was pleased with my efforts. We had soil brought in and dumped inside. We raked and evened it out. We transplanted two very young Dwarf Albertas (each known as Albert), one on each side. But what about flowers? What would we plant?

We read in a garden catalog, that an easy garden is one made up of bulbs, and if one were to plant daffodils and lilies mixed in with each other they’d come up each year and we’d have flowers all summer. What a great idea. No fuss. No muss. No planting every year. We ordered several different varieties of ornamental lilies, two or three varieties of daffodils and some crocus. With my husband’s help, we planted the garden.

The flowers were beautiful and came up each year, along with some weeds which seldom were pulled. The lilies, fortunately, towered over them. Besides, they were in full bloom over the 4th of July weekends when we have our Moynahan annual family gathering.

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”  A. A. Milne

In 2008 we lost our very special Moynahan family member, Mark’s sister, Moya. She was a New York City woman and loved her visits here on the mountain. “I’d love to come and garden,” she had told me several times. I have no idea what she wanted to garden – Roses? Tomatoes? Berries? Hollyhocks? Rutabagas? It wasn’t important now. What was important to us was that the family wanted to dedicate this garden to her, and so we did. We had a memorial stone placed there in her honor.

The weeds took over this spring and fewer lilies were coming up through them. Not only was this an eyesore, but Moya’s memorial stone was covered. It was also the summer we were celebrating the marriage of our granddaughter Alexandra Gerson to Noah Williams. It couldn’t look like this! I put a Help Wanted ad in the newspaper for someone to come and weed and maintain the garden. Six people responded. I just took the first one. He was a miracle worker. He plowed through all the weed, carefully pulling them from around the flowers. He rebuilt part of the wall to make the semi-circle correct. He brought in extra soil, mulch and an assortment of plants. I’ll have him back again!

Upstairs on the upper-deck is the easiest way to garden. We had flower boxes built in 2010, and each year we buy flowers in pots and place them in the boxes. We choose the flowers at random. We love this gardening method! When they’re through blooming, we remove the pots and dump the contents over the hill – then we buy replacement flowers in pots. More expensive? Yes. Creative? No. But, for us this works just fine. Mark even had an outside faucet put on the deck and added a hose, so watering takes 5 minutes.


My non-gardening method is working perfectly now. I have someone to care for my small garden in the front of the house, and I use flowers in pots on the upstairs deck. Now my flowers appear magically and remain beautiful throughout the growing season – no planting – no weeding – no work.

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Sounds perfect! 🙂

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