Nothing Went As Planned, But Everything Is Beautiful!
A Photographic Summer Garden Update
In February I posted about my detailed, ambitious plans to turn my front lawn into a pollinator garden, and I said this:
“Gardening reminds me that plans are just plans. ‘Failing to follow through’ is some bullshit, because you don’t actually control what happens to your plan. Sometimes plans work out, and sometimes they fail, and sometimes, you forget about them and do something else. Plans are meant to be made, but they don’t always have to be followed.”
In neurodivergent spaces, we talk about “executive function” a lot, a concept I have come to be quite critical of. There’s an implicit assumption that the ability to organize, plan, and prioritize is good, and lacking any of these skills is bad. Dis-ordered. But of course, these value judgements depend on context, and on what you value, and on where you want to end up.
Not all of us worship at the altar of production; nor do we all function like executives.
I tried to executive-function the garden — but for me, it was a mistake. I made a list and a spreadsheet, I mapped out the plantings, and I did months of research. But it didn’t feel good to me. I was anxious with the pressure of thinking I could control the outcome of the project, the awareness that there were so many variables I could never contain.
As I’ve mused before, control is not realistic when it comes to creativity, but especially when you’re working with weather patterns and wild creatures. This is not my project — we are all collaborating.
I thought of this when I went onto the back porch this morning and found a bumblebee sucking away at the little white flowers on the shishito plants.
“Thank you, sir!” I told him. “You’re doing great. I am so proud of you.”
I have never seen so many peppers before — they’re popping out of wilted flowers faster than I can pick them, gently arching the stems out of the container with their weight, reaching toward me with their offerings. This is the work of the insects, not me.
Today I found the first ripe cherry tomato, another success I credit to the bees. I stacked the garden full of flowers I knew they would like, but when the heat came, it sucked up all the energy I had for maintenance. I let it all go a bit wild, and the whole yard is alive with bees now. It’s a mess, like me, and I love it.
My garden is not a factory or a showcase, it is a laboratory, the mad scientist kind. Borage and rouge purple dahlias are growing in and out of the tomato plants, honeybees hopping from one to the other, little chunky bumbles buzzing around with fluffy pollen-covered legs. I’ve been sitting in the grass, photographing them.
In this photo-heavy post for paid subscribers, I’ll explain how my plans went wrong with the pollinator garden, show you how it turned out, and share a few of my favorite plants for my fellow distracted/forgetful/tired plant lovers who don’t function executively but still want to grow things. (Plus an indoor, apartment-friendly experiment I’m trying!)
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