An excerpt from my gardening routine

It’s very rare that I’m blessed with large chunks of time to tend to my garden. The more likely scenario is that I’ve got a half-hour before heading to work in the morning. Or 15 minutes between conference calls. Or 7 minutes before the family emerges outside and insists that we depart for vacation.

Those tiny pockets of time are crucial in terms of prioritizing what needs to get done. I’m not above setting a schedule for the week where I identify my potential “gardening available time” or GAT as it’s known in my household. Each GAT is assigned one or two must-do tasks (logged in Excel of course), knowing that I must also eradicate a few weeds along the way.

No f’n around with this gardening stuff.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled the results of one of my recent GAT sessions. This one ended up with a duration of 17 minutes and I like to think it’s a realistic representation of how these sessions typically proceed.

Enjoy.


As with everything in my life, it all starts with coffee. It doesn’t have to be morning coffee only. I enjoy and take advantage of its caffeine prowess throughout the day.

As I finish my last cup, I start to get myself pumped up. A few grunts here and a few air punches there and I’m primed to go. By the time I’m done, I have my game-face on.

Once I’m good and fired up, I head out to the garage and step into my favorite boots. Take notice of the length of the laces. I’ve never tied them over the years out of pure laziness and as a result, they’ve slowly torn off over time. I may have mistaken the pieces of lace as a small snake more than once over the years.

Once the footwear is secured, I head over to my collection of garden “stuff” and grab what I deem necessary for the current GAT.

For today, I determined that I’d first put on my trusty gloves and just do a quick walk around the garden before determining what was to be accomplished first. These Atlas Nitrile gloves are the absolute best by the way.

Yes, there are holes emerging at the fingertips, but I’ve used these extensively for three years running. And yes, that is a Fitbit on my wrist. I’ll often purposely forget a tool just so I can walk back to the garage and retrieve it, therefore upping my step totals.

So shoes and gloves are on and now it’s time to determine where we attack first. And I say “attack” because that has to be the mentality when there is limited time. I take a right turn out of the garage and down this path, into the backyard.

Once I’ve traversed the path, I glance to the right to evaluate this section of garden. It’s a somewhat young and developing section and I initially wanted to tweak it a little bit. Fill in some gaps, prune a bit or even relocate a shrub here from elsewhere in the garden. After 13 seconds of reflection, I decide to hold off for now as it quickly slides down the priority list.

We move on.

But first I get a close look at this apple tree and get sad and really angry. Year two and it looks like a pile of hot garbage. But I can’t revel in the anger right now. It needs to be pushed to the subconscious.

Shit, how did I end up here? Now I’m looking at the Northern Sea Oats that have emerged from underneath the Amsonia. I frickin hate NSO.

Again, I can’t let that slow me down today. Just grin and bear it, John.

Finally, I make my way to task number 1. I need to cut back the very spent flowers of the Catmint ‘Walker’s Low’. They line my front walkway and look tired and unappealing in their current state. I can’t have visitors judging me as they walk to my front door.

Time to cut them back severely.

Time to take the walk back to the garage where I not only grab the required tool, but also increase my steps number. 

Yes, this is a battery-powered hedge trimmer because you know I’m evolved like that.

Wait, what is that? Let me put down the trimmer and grab my phone out of my pocket.

Sweet. Where was I?

Oh yeah, the Catmint.

17 seconds later and the job is done.

Clean-up can be completed during the afternoon GAT.

While I’m thrilled that the task can be checked off of the to-do list, it does result in the exposure of the poison ivy that has been plaguing me for years now.

I’ll have to schedule time with my wife so she can attend to pulling these.

While I was chopping down the Catmint, my peripheral vision provided me with my next task. Since I already have the trimmer out, why not cut down the Veronica as well? They are clearly in need of a haircut.

Boom. Done.

Oh how pretty. Look how that Veronica bloom fell perfectly on top of the Sedum ‘Red Carpet’. That’s a great photo, let me grab the phone again. Instagram, here we come.

What’s next?

Look at that, that one phlox I saved from near death in early spring and divided into 5 sections is actually blooming. Damn I’m awesome. I’m like the plant whisperer.

Back on task.

These three weeds need to go. They are destroying the view of this killer combo of Clethra and Panicum ‘Northwind’. This has gone on for too long.

With one single-handed grasp and pull …

… they’re all gone, roots and all.

While I’m ruthless with the weeds, I’m still careful to not remove my nearby struggling New York Ironweed during the carnage.

How much better does this little vignette look now?

One last task before we head back indoors. Time to hand prune these other Veronica plants out back … wait … is that what I think it is? … yes it is … screw these pruners

MUST … TRACK … DOWN

9 thoughts on “An excerpt from my gardening routine

  1. Misti

    LOL you sound like me a little but I love wood oats! No focus because everything needs to be done. It’s one reason I hate lunch gardening in a way because there is no way I can do it all in 30-40 minutes.

    Reply
  2. Marie Janoski

    Thank you so much for this! Made me laugh as I so relate! It is like I have the attention span of a baby!!! I say to the butterfly, “Please can you land on me? You’ll be the first one….”

    Reply
  3. LaLa

    As I was doing some bee balm research, I thankfully landed on this article which left me in tears laughing! You have no idea how much I needed this! I had relapses of myself in the yard when you were running through your yard trying to take a picture of the monarch butterfly.

    Sincerely,
    A huge fan already

    Reply
  4. mary hatton

    Gardening gloves and poison ivy. My double nemises. From May to October I have a pair of gardening gloves on several window ledges in the hope that a pair will be nearby when I need them. This has been a banner year for poison ivy. It is all over and dealing with it is a full time job. I have woods and fields on three sides of my property and poison ivy and unwanted saplings are my personal Barbarian invaders. Soldier on!

    Reply
  5. Mary Maxwell

    You are hilarious. I tend to start doing something and get sidetracked also. Sometimes the original task gets completed…

    Reply
  6. Grace Pearson

    My favorite is the bull thistle! I lived on a great hill farm above Gaston, Oregon, before being married, and loved all the growing things and animals there ~ which really changed my life. Thank you for your suggestions and photography with comments. LOVE IT ALL.

    Reply

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