May 17, 2008

On Perennial Flowers, Yard Work, and Personal Energy

For years I have shelled out money each spring for flats of marigolds, petunias, and other annual flowers to brighten up our .33-acre patch of urban landscape, spending many hours digging holes, transplanting starter plants, and dutifully watering the young annuals into adulthood.

This year, though, I am changing direction in favor of a larger number of perennials. Pictured is a nondescript patch of Châteaux Brooks in which I planted a packet of California poppies, the first of what I hope to be several dozen sections of perennials that will require less work for summertime beauty.

Part of this decision is based upon the matter of time, as this summer proved to be a bonanza in adjunct college-level teaching. I managed to scrape up five courses at various area institutions this semester, and the amount of time I can spend on my gardens will decrease.

But part of this, too, reflects the fact that I simply find myself with lower levels of energy than I did even ten years ago. On top of this, a late-spring bout of the flu has left me even further sapped for energy, and I find that I can no longer go gung-ho for six or eight hours in the yard like I once did.

For the first time in my life, I am recognizing that I am not superhuman.

As a younger man, I could plow through 80-hour workweeks as a franchise owner like a feisty mule, and I was able to function well on six hours of sleep. These days I seem to burn out when I cross the 55-hour threshold, and I am cranky as hell when I get less than seven hours of sleep. After the 90-minute grass-cutting chore each week (we have a double lot) I feel drained, and it takes me 20 minutes or so to recuperate from this not-really-so-vigorous activity.

Thus, I am hoping that the assortment of poppies, daisies, carnations, and convolvuluses in which I invested will bring many years of low-maintenance color to my yard. Otherwise, I'll have to break down and reconvert my garden space into green grass.


Alo Konsen said...

I've found several great online references about (and vendors for) perennials, with which I'm filling my yard. Drop me a line if you'd like the list of links.

Anonymous said...


I find that shasta daisies, brown-eyed susans, and day lillies are great ones.

Also, areas of shade do very well with hosta!

Historychic said...

Where are you teaching at this summer and when do you go to Europe?