Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Room to Grow

I took the master gardening course in 2010. One of the things I learned is that you should try to think of your yard in terms of rooms. You have a vegetable garden room, which is separate from the outdoor living room, which may or may not be separate from the outdoor kitchen (in our case, the "kitchen" is just a gas grill on the patio). Separate and hidden from all of this is the utility room. In my case, the utility room has the garden hose, rain barrel, air conditioner, and compost bin.

I also learned that landscaping is personal, and there is no right or wrong. Someone might hate the idea of a yard full of concrete baskets or garden gnomes, but you can't really say it's wrong, not in the same way you can say that it's wrong to spray your azalea with Round-Up to help it grow.

So now our utility room looks like this:

The streaky nature of this photo isn't artfully-captured sunlight; it's a streak on the lens. 
We can pretend it's on purpose if you'd like.

We hired someone (Capehart Landscape and Design, in case someone in Indy is looking for someone) to rototill the area, put in the bluestone path, and spread a bunch of mushroom compost.* I didn't let them plant, because that's the fun part.

We bought a Red Dragon Threadleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Red Dragon'), which will only get to 5' height and spread. Andrew and I have wanted a Japanese maple for a long time, but I never knew where to put it. I was so excited that I talked to it before I planted it, telling it how beautiful it was. I'm hoping the neighbors didn't hear.

I bought a ton of perennials at the IMA Perennial Premiere** and planted them last night. I still have room for lots of groundcover as well as some steppables between the stones.

This morning, I was contemplating that I feel good leaving lots of space between the plants. It's okay that the bed isn't done. It's more than okay--it's good to leave the plants alone and let them grow. They need time to spread and show me how big they're going to get, whether they like where they are located, and if they can get along with their neighbors. If I stuffed the beds full of plants, there would be no room for growth, no chance to make the space better, and I'd run the very real risk of hurting what I've planted.

All of that got me thinking: If room to grow is a sign of a healthy space, then maybe my incompleteness, my flaws and failings, are also signs of health. I tend to be very hard on myself, expecting myself to be perfect and well on the way to spiritual enlightenment. It is good to try to improve and make myself better, but I need to remember that space and room for improvement are not only omnipresent and therefore unavoidable, but also good.

My current state, right where I am with no qualifications, is beautiful. I have room to grow, and I'm at the exact place I need to be.

So say we all.

*Andrew was slightly horrified by the smell, while I just thought it smelled like Grandfather's farm. Apparently mushroom compost smells an awful lot like cow manure. I found it oddly comforting.

**I can tell you what they are, but does anyone care? I have no idea. I'm going to assume you don't. You can tell me if I'm wrong.


  1. I want to know what steppables are. Are these plants one can walk on? and what is mushroom compost? Do mushrooms grow from it or are mushrooms composted into it? I think I'd like to grow mushrooms in or near my garden. I'm going to think more on this rooms in the yard idea. and I like this room to grow idea also. Great post.....really has me thinking!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I've ignored my garden beds/rooms. I try to keep the outer wall in front half way presentable just to appease he neighbors who seem to have nothing better to do than work on their landscaping... I assume they care!