Re: I think I'm done...

Well just as a hint, Kevin, have you ever noticed how healthy those flowers look along the roadside? I tell my customers at the local Lowes I work at (and this is MY experience here) that generally most perennials came from wild flowers anyway and most wildflowers (and perennials) dislike ammended soil. They prefer lean to poor soil. They do like real compost or top dressing because in nature they get leaf fall and such, but over the years I've discovered that my rich, raised beds aren't perfect either. They were too rich. They drained too quickly and when we had drought, I lost things. It's never going to be a perfect year every year, but there are momentary times of glory. The spring bulbs were outstanding. A bush was mind blowing, a bird brought a flower you didn't plant and it turned out to be awesome. The berries were unbelievable. Then there are the years that the blister beetles eat the leaves of the Japanese fall blooming anemone's and you never see one bud. Or the hail pounds the first opium poppies you've gotten hold of seed for after searching for decades for them into pulp when they've shown you you're going to have a bumper crop of flowers for years to come.
Gardening is a crap shoot. You can't always predict how things will come out, but that is what makes it fun and worth the sweat and trouble and frustrations. It's my way of calming down and of venting when I'm frustrated. Nothing like being pissed off and going out and taking it out on weeds......when I'm aware I'm not pissed off anymore, there's green stuff to put in the compost pile........
If you're giving up after six years, I wonder what your expectations were in the first place? The "hobby" of gardening isn't a six year endeavor. It's a lifetime commitment. Like raising children or having a pet.
When the people who move up here ask me "what blooms all season here and how do I cope with this clay soil?" I tell them there is only one thing that blooms all season besides most annuals, and that's silk flowers. And there is nothing wrong with clay. most plants love it. (well alot of perennials love it as it's nutrient rich....) Roses must love it too as the ones I dug up still persist and pop out baby shoots the last seven years since digging up the three that were here all those years. And had I deliberately planted them, they would have been riddled with black spot, insects from hell and every blight imaginable.
Kevin, only you can explain why you are giving up and are done with gardening. But you should have been told from the first that this was no mere hobby. This is a lifestyle and a commitment. Something most of us will do until we can no longer lift a trowel or bag of soil. And even then we'll find a way or will garden in our minds. It won't be the same but it's not something we can quit so easily.
I call myself the madgardener because I am not pissed but totally mad about gardening honey. It started out as something to do to fill an empty space in my heart and has blossomed into something much more fulfilling to me. I have found wonderful lifetime friends here in this newsgroup, as well as locally with people I've reached out to. It has enspired me to do something else I love, to write, and one day I will make countless of my gardening neighbors happy and finally publish that notebook of my writings. I might not be a best seller, but I bet there will be some that will get my book just because we've shared these moments together these years here and it's personal.
I could show you countless pictures I've taken this season of my flowers and moments in my ridge top fairy endeavor, but at the same time I can also tell you that there are crushing moments of disaster. The new puppy has dug up a pulmonaria that took me three years to get settled, the new Lobelia had finally gotten happy in the soil and was growing and it was dug up and exposed twice. I lost my bronze fennel so there will be no catapillars this year to eat it to the bones and butterflies to move onward. The Swamp sunflower I dug up has flopped so badly in my front flowerbed that I fear I might lose perennials that I truely love.
But there are also stellar moments. My fig tree this year has the largest crop of figs on it I've ever seen since Mary Emma gave me the twig daughter from hers. Total idiotic diasters, like why did I plant a magnolia five feet from this fig?? Am I insane? Will the Yoshino cherry make it in the woods room? Will the Forest pansy redbud make it thru the winter? Have I killed the Harry Lauders' twisted filbert by planting it in the sunny spot in the upper woods and wasted $30?
Will I continue to over crowd perennials or will I stop and give the ones I have room to show me what they can do? (I doubt I will stop crowding plants, so I will be guilty of endless murder because of the crowding, or I will finally make enough room to accomodate all of them.........I do have almost an acre to plant, just need to get my head outa my butt and start clearing more).
So you're not alone in these frustrations. But you might be one of a few that throw in the towel because you hate to fail. I don't look at it as failure, though Kevin. I look at it as learning experiences that teach you so that when you are as old as me or older, you can look back and laugh at yourself for your impatience or foolishness at thinking you could get a handle on Mom's Nature. I hate to see you quit, but it's your call after all. It's always sad when gardeners stop gardening, but if it's not your pail of dirt, then I wish you well in what you endeavor to do from here.........
all the best, madgardener up on the ridge, back in my fairy holler, overlooking English Mountain with the cicada's strumming loudly thru the windows and the hummingbirds strafing thru the salvia, in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36

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Sounds like you might be trying *too* hard. This is my first year and with the exception of May when I did a lot of digging, amending, sifting out rocks and such...gardening has been a light chore. 20-40 minutes each morning. As my plants filled out weeding became almost non-existant and watering and occasional bug-duty were the major concerns. Maybe you took on too much, made too big a garden and couldn't keep a handle on it and frustrated yourself. I planted about 60 varieties, about 45 germinated successfully and grew, but my garden is small. Probably 30-35 square feet with all the containers. Maybe you should try working with containers and avoid the clay issue.
You'll still have to worry about deer. Deer and wildlife are a big issue and one I don't have to deal with as much. If I did I know from others a 8-10 foot fence is the best solution. I'd have to approach gardening with that in mind. Or maybe construct a greenhouse and limit myself to what fits in there.
I don't agree that gardening need be a life-long choice. For me it is simply one interest of many and something nice to have out back. I don't plan on acheiving self-sustenance or making enough to can and jar for the next decade. Just some fresh vegetables, herbs and some nice scenery to enjoy.
Best of Luck

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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That's too bad if if all goes over the head of a dullard like you. You're just special the way you are.

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So you are a quitter, no big deal a hobby is supposed to be fun.
I'd rather be flexible and shift how and where I apply my efforts. If I were rigid I'd take my compost and go home.
I have been calling this year the Red Sox Gardening Year after the Red Sox motto of wait until next year. Hard winter, cold wet spring, rain on top of rain and then humidity in the 90% range. Now no rain at all!
I have seen diseases I never had before, insects I never saw before, hardy plants winterkilled, tomatoes blighted, blueberries down with botrytis,cedar rust the size of a buffet table jello sculpture, hopper burn, lace bugs, lilies so diseased they had no leaves left, stunted garlic, split tomatoes- I ate em anyway and they killed me.
My tactics have changed, instead of growing beds I am growing a few select plants in pots , nicotiana, night blooming jasmines , datura, pretoria cannas, etc. My efforts have been going into laying stone paths through the bamboo grove, lighting, top dressing everything with last years mountain of compost. Trying to find the time and strength to dig another pond for water lilies and lotus. Trying to get my beehives strong enough to survive the coming winter. Sneaking away to the quarry to get flat rocks and go swimming with my dogs.
You ain't done, you never started!
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