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Learning to listen

Tammy Schmitt

Tammy Schmitt

September 27, 2013

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that went a bit like this?

you never listen to me

I’m quite confident that most of my conversations with Mother Nature follow that plot line exactly. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced I’ve spent most of the last 19 years only hearing every third word she was saying. She doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like it all.

go ahead make my day

Despite her gentle words of advice to me in the spring that perhaps the mistflowers near the river birch needed more sun, the phlox needed more water, and that leaves with spots were a sure sign of disease, that’s not what I heard and I failed to follow her guidance.


While this is probably the spot in the post where you expect me to insert a photo of a benevolent green spirit covered with butterflies and leaves, that’s not how I view Mother Nature. She may be beautiful and tender but she’s a badass momma whose tired of my selective hearing.

wake up kiss ass repeat

I’m not sure if it was the blackspot on the roses, athracnose on the liatris, rudbeckia, and silene, or the mysterious spots on the trumpet creeper leaves, but somewhere along the way, my ass began to hurt and I had this amazing thought that perhaps if I learned to observe my garden and see exactly what was in front of me instead of what I wanted to see, she just might remove her foot for a while. Whispering hadn’t worked and I was ignoring all the yelling. While I didn’t appreciate the foot-to-ass approach, I can’t argue with her methods. It was a definite attention-getter.

foot up ass

“YES! I hear you loud and clear! I will transplant you somewhere moister/drier/sunnier/shadier!”

starman geraniums and whit mistflower

I occasionally get it right in my garden. ‘Starman’ geraniums bloom in the late summer with white mistflower. Blue mistflower, on the run from the shade under the river birch, has planted itself at the front of this bed. It’s being transplanted to the rain garden with the rest of the free seeding mistflower commune.

I bought these off the sale table at our local garden center a few years ago. They love moist soil and partial bright shade.

Starman geranium



obedience plant in front of the air conditioner

I have a weird spot next to my highly decorative air conditioning units that was choked with weeds and scraggly wood anemones. I decided to fight fire with fire and filled the spot with native pink obedient plant, a vigorous spreader. It overtook the weeds and added a carefree cottagey look to the side of the house. Plus, the bees love it. When it spreads too much, I can just pull up the shoots and compost them or share them with other unsuspecting gardeners.

pink obedience plant

These remind me of penstemon flowers.

Sedum around the stepping stones

Sedum grows along the stepping stones that form a short cut between the patio and the lawn.

blue plumbago and white heart leafed aster

Blue plumbago and white heart leafed aster divarcatus grow in the bone dry shade under my Rose of Sharon. I’m adding more of both plants to that bed this fall to help fill it out.

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helen mckerral
helen mckerral
10 years ago

Great post, Tammy – I can relate! But then, I’m trying to grow a lychee in the Adelaide Hills so – in spite of what the nursery person who sold it to me said – I think Mother Nature will be shouting at me quite loudly this coming winter!

Tammy Schmitt
10 years ago

Mother Nature and I get into all sorts of arguments. She always wins. 🙂

kimberly clemons
kimberly clemons
9 years ago

Do you think plants grow well by a person who does planting with love in a happy environment or would constant conflicted unhappy atmosphere make any difference how well the plant grows