Monday, April 8, 2013

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Gardener (and a Seed Giveaway!)

Gardening is largely a solitary activity. Most of the time, I really love the quiet space my garden affords me. It gives me time to still my mind and to marvel over the fuzzy texture of a zucchini leaf or inhale the scent of my lavender or take note of the breeze on my skin.

I have to say, though, sometimes I feel pretty lonely in my garden. Sometimes I would like to sit with a like-minded friend on the swing in my secret garden and discuss plans for my garden and for hers. I'd like to talk about the merits of clematis or sympathize with one another over gardening difficulties. It would be nice to confess my obsession with nursery catalogs to someone who has a similar addiction. I have plenty of people I can do these things with via phone, email, Facebook, or Twitter, but I do not know one person in Orlando who would define herself as a gardener, and so for the last three years, I have largely gardened alone.

When I lived in Michigan, I had the perfect gardening friend. We would make our seed orders together. We checked in with each other on how our seedlings were doing. She even liked to walk around Bordine's nursery for hours with me, a thoroughly magical place that always made me feel as if I were being bathed in some elixir. We would slowly make our way through the extensive nursery, touch everything in sight, discuss which plants would look nice in various parts of our gardens, and--most importantly--encourage any and all purchases the other would be considering. I miss her. I miss my garden friend.

My mom is another gardening friend, but she only lives here for a month or two in the winter. I'm left the rest of the year to talk to myself while I'm crouched among the flowers (and yes, recite poetry to the plants). I go to Palmer's Garden and Goods alone, walk through all the plants and wide range of planters, and wish I had a friend to chat with about all of it. This week, so many things were happening in the garden, and I kept wishing that I could show them all to someone else who knows the joy of growing things. The best I could do was call and talk to my mom about the first zucchini flowers, the first fig leaf, the clear indications that my seed potatoes were hard at work underground.
The first zucchini flower...
The first fig leaf
The first potato shoots
One of my long-distance friends emailed last week and said that she enjoys reading my blog posts because it's like sitting down in my garden with me and a cup of tea. When I read it, I sighed and thought, "Oh, wouldn't that be nice?" I do love hearing from gardeners from around the world, but having one in my own backyard to talk about plants with would be fabulous. So, until I have someone who will do just that, I'll include a photo here of a perspective from the swing, and maybe you, dear reader, and I can imagine sitting on it together.

The view from the swing
Look under the swing...Tippy's waiting, too.
Now, for that giveaway. This one is, unfortunately, limited to my readers living in the United States, as it's a seed giveaway. After the inexplicable and infuriating passage of the Monsanto Protection Act, I am even more pleased to be giving away seeds from Seed Savers Exchange this week.  I placed an order for myself, and I decided to make it a double so that I could give one of my readers exactly what I intend to grow myself, thus allowing me to garden long-distance with someone. If you don't know anything about Seed Savers, be sure to check them out. I order almost all of my seeds from them because they are about the important work of keeping heirloom varieties and biodiversity alive, something we need more than ever these days.

What will a lucky winner and I be growing together? Well, I purchased Cilantro, Globe Basil, and Chives seeds. I also went a little crazy and bought Nicotiana seeds and seeds for something called Bunny Tails, which I was just intrigued by.
The Prize Package!
All you need to do to be eligible is comment on this post and tell me what your biggest plan for your garden is this year. And if you are feeling shy and still want to enter, you can just post a comment that says, "Give me the seeds!" Turfman will draw the names out of the garden hat on Sunday, 14 April, so the deadline for entries is 11:59 pm Orlando time on Saturday, 13 April. I'll announce the winner in next Monday's post.


  1. My biggest plan? Last fall I discovered some beautiful maple seedlings amongst the undergrowth I was pulling out of the backyard. I staked them up & would like to see them survive! Last week they had some cute little buds, so at least they survived the winter.

  2. oh, I already told you I "pruned" a hosta today. which really is something since we did nothing with our gardens last year. our front beds are too narrow. I would like to expand them, but that would require figuring out what to do with the area. maybe I should takes pictures if what I have and consult with you and your mom via email. oh, my dad did help us figure out where the sprinkler heads are for our sprinkler system. we learned the previous owner never drained it. its been sitting idle for probably 5 years. We're fortunate that we only have to replace a file heads. Jennifer Woof.

    1. Oh, you know I am all for garden expansion! And I'm always happy to look at photos and consult on a garden plan!

  3. Urg, I'm having trouble commenting today! I've lost several clever quips into the ether.

    My big plan is to have my deer fence reinstalled -- this time with wood posts, gates at both ends, and wider sidewalks on the outer edges. If all goes well and the pocketbook allows, I'd like to string some solar lanterns around the top of the fence as well. I've been working slowly on a solar light garden around the fountain, and I'd like to extend that theme. Also water lilies in think its high time for water lilies.

    Speaking of clematis, mine didn't bloom at all last year n enough vines and greenery to choke a football team, but nary a flower. Any suggestions? Should I divide it maybe?

    1. I feel like packing my power tools and coming to help with the fence. And I'm all for the lights. They would look so lovely in your setting! As for the clematis, they like alkaline soil. They also love lots of food, so you can pile on the composted manure. And they like their roots shaded. Other than that, have you pruned it before? Based on when it normally blooms, you can look up when to prune it back.

  4. My biggest plan for my poor neglected garden is installing a mini water fountain in the middle of it. I've always wanted one. I just love the calming sound of running water surrounded by beautiful foliage. I've been in a little funk with my garden recently, but have been getting the urge to play in some dirt lately. So, this weekend I'm going to buy a few herbs and some lavender and try to recoup what I lost from last year. It was so wonderful just picking fresh herbs when I needed them. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

    1. Yes to fountains! I've built two for my garden area, and I miss the one I had in Atlanta that the movers forgot to pack. Very sad day when I discovered Michigan. Nothing cures a garden funk more than a trip to the nursery!