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Having our Garden and writing, too

Mel and I love gardening and are currently building a fairy garden together. We’re crazy. We don’t have time for this, and it sits—a work in progress—near our back door for visitors to see, but it’s so much fun, and it’s an escape when I need to get away from the desk.

Here is a picture of our newest fairy house. I learned how to make this stump from Helen Wyatt after watching her YouTube video.

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We have several flowerbeds and gardens. The challenge is gardening in such a way that it doesn’t become stressful and therefor a chore. Over the years, I’ve learned a few strategies that have allowed me to have my gardens and meet my writing (or working) goals:

Plan

  • Toward the end of winter, I plan what I want to accomplish in the yard or gardens. I write it down and work toward that single goal. This year it was to add a new flower bed specifically for tomatoes. Next spring, I’m planting one new tree (A Japanese Maple) and transplanting another (Redbud).
  • Don’t overextend. I can only add one new element each year while maintaining everything else. To do more will turn a hobby into a chore, and I don’t want that. Gardening should never be a chore. Not in this day and age.
  • I visualize everything I’ll need for the new project so there aren’t surprises. Nothing eats up a day like multiple trips to Lowes.
  • Add new flowerbeds, trees, and landscape structures as early in the spring as possible before yard mowing and trimming set in with routine.
  • Dividing my Lily bulbs can be time consuming, so I’ll begin in the early fall, late summer (like now 😊) and do a few plants a day (before the leaves start to fall). If I procrastinate, it becomes a chore.
  • With our fairy garden, we tackle one house or project (a craft really) at a time with no expectations. I give myself permission to have fun, but I don’t start anything new until the current project is completed. Now that the stump is done, I want to landscape the area around our four houses and add pathways. Then I’ll start some other smaller structures.

Prepare

  • Take care of weeds early in the spring. Get them out of the way. I rarely spray, but I do on stone palths and cracks in the concrete or areas of the garden that have no flowers.
  • It allows for easy weed pulling. Buy the mulch ahead of time. You don’t have to spread it all in one day.
  • Create decent barriers for your flowerbeds on days when nothing else needs done. My favorite is just a trough I create with a shovel. It’s clean and crisp and requires low maintenance.
  • I prefer to buy my flowers a few at a time. It only takes two minutes to plant them, whereas a flat takes an hour or two and sits for two days before I get them planted. The added stress then makes it a chore.

Maintain

  • Remember not everything needs done at once. I’m a firm believer in working a little bit each day versus a lot in one day. This enables me to still hit my novel word count and take the necessary breaks to stretch.
  • Plan 15-20 minutes to do one thing—pull weeds, dead-head flowers, work on a barrier, mulch, or move bulbs.
  • I give myself permission not to harvest everything. Jalapeno peppers are one of the most beautiful plants, and I love to watch them turn red, but I only eat a few. I also enjoy the way fresh herbs green up the patio. I use some, but more than anything, they’re simply beautiful additions to my patio that doesn’t require much maintenance.

By putting in a little extra effort in the early Spring, my yard and gardens only require maintenance the rest of the summer, about 15-20 minutes of work a few times a week. There’s little stress and a ton of enjoyment when I sit on my patio with iced tea and a good book. The work picks back up in the fall as the leaves fall and fill my gutters, but I’m already planning intense days of writing in September and October as I work on book four of the Belied Outcast Legends. Raking leaves in between will give me time to work the bugs out of difficult scenes and get to know the characters in my head. It makes for quick and productive work. I’m blessed to have the opportunity.

Disclaimer: Mel and I do spend an hour a week trimming, picking up sticks, and mowing. We do consider this a chore and grumble about it more than we should.

How much gardening do you do? What’s your favorite part? Do you find it enjoyable or a chore?