Who Made This Gardening Mess?!?!?

I find it incredible how messy a garden can get over the course of the winter. I mean, granted, I did not actually clean the garden at the end of the summer last year, but I am sure that it did not look this bad when the snow fell.

Every year, around this time of year, I am reminded of when we bought this house. It was February and as we walked the lightly snow covered back yard, my husband commented that my neighbor must be a slob. I looked across the fence and promptly smacked my husband upside the head. “That’s not a mess,” I told him, “that is a garden.” We put an offer in on the house that day. Never underestimate the value of a gardener neighbor.

How is it a garden turns into that in just a few months? Is Jack Frost that much of a slob? My initial thought on this is, “Of course he is, he is male.” But that probably isn’t fair (even though I have plenty of anecdotal evidence of this with 3 male children and a husband under one roof.)

The past several weeks have been spent picking up after nature. Dead stems, crushed and twisted under snow and sleet, are now surfacing. Gnomes, mugged by brutal, cold winds, lay sprawled and violated among dazed perennials and dead annuals. It is so bad, you fully expect the 6 o’clock news to be on your doorstep any minute to film it. And that is just the front yard. The carnage you find in the back yard is only fit to be shown on the 11 o’clock news when all the kiddies are in bed and the fight for ratings demands that holy horror be shown.

How did it get this bad? Granted, I got lazy at the end of the season and COMPLETELY blew off cleaning up the garden, but I know that it did not look this bad. And so thus begins the big garden clean up. I suppose I can’t complain too much. The spring is finally here and cleaning up after Old Man Winter is not so bad, as long as he doesn’t come back for a good six months to start mussing up my garden all over again.

13 thoughts on “Who Made This Gardening Mess?!?!?
  1. Jackie H on

    LOL. I had the same conversation with myself over the weekend… did I really leave this much mess in the garden?! No we didn’t! Winter was horrible on our gardens this year! And from what I saw on Fox5 out of Akron, we aren’t out of the woods yet! Cover the new foliage on Monday and Tuesday! booooooooo!

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  2. I tell myself it’s good for the plants. The leaves I don’t rake keep the weeds from germinating in the spring. I don’t cut my perennials so they don’t want to grow in the fall and use up their energy. I also tell myself it’s for the birds, since they clean up all the seeds on all of the dried plants. I’m also a lot more energetic and excited in the spring, so it’s much easier to muster the energy to clean up, in the fall I’m tired and tell myself that it can wait till spring for all the reasons stated above.

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  3. Melanie on

    I’ve been working on the “MESS” for the past 2 weeks. I really don’t know where it all comes from.

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  4. Ellie on

    This side of the pond we’re being encouraged to do as little tidying up as possible in the autumn – the “mess” makes much better homes for useful insects etc. The downside is how much more work it makes in the spring!

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  5. Very funny post. Ditto for me as well-just where does all that brush come from anyway?

    “That’s a garden, not a mess!” :) Sounds like a quote to me.

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  6. I felt the same way when I walked into the community garden for the first time—it looked desolate and like nothing would ever grow there. Like you said, though, spring is here! Even if many of the plots remain messy for months, at least it’s a mess that’s not covered in snow. But I think that everyone’s in the gardening spirit now and it will be beautiful (or at least clean) very soon.

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  7. I always leave my perennial borders and such for the spring, for the same reason Chiot’s run does. I would in my vegetable garden too so the soil wouldn’t be bare over the winter, but I’m always trying to warm my soil up early with plastic to try to make my northern garden produce earlier. The black soil warms up faster than plant material. So that usually, but not always, gets cleaned up in the fall.

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  8. I cut everything back in my community garden plot because of the rules for putting the gardens to bed. But in my front yard I didn’t cut back a few of my perennials because some of them (like asters) looked very nice all dried up, and with no grass in that area, it would have looked awfully bare until the snow fell. But when the snow melted, yuck! Time to clean up.

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  9. I tried to blame all the mess on old man winter with his wind and ice blowing papers, sticks, nasty oak leaves and limbs into the beds, but that was too easy :)

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  10. Mine looks horrible. None of mine gets done in the fall because I’m always so in denial that winter is really coming – until it’s too late!

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  11. greg webber on

    My frustrations over a messy home garden is compounded when I go to work. I am a gardener/handyman at a historic inn in California. Everyday I walk out past an overgrown (fall-spring) or dead (summer) lawn to immaculatly kept grounds. But the smell of semi decomposed oak leaves and the sorrowful rustle of dead bean vines in bitter cold air has its own sort dark beauty. Probably the worst part of my garden are the numerous half finished projects and the hordes of black plastic pots I keep in stacks because I just know that if I take them to the nursery I’ll be sure to need about thirty beefy 15 gallon pots. I guess the garden is acceptable if the mess is nature’s, but the inevitable accumulation of people stuff, the bags of ammendments stacked there, the fork carelesssly left by the compost, and the garden shed brimming with all that stuff you know has value but you’ll stiff never use… that is the messy part of the garden that is “ugly” but none the less essential.

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  12. Kendall on

    It is nice to know I’m not the only one dealing with spring clean up after sliding on fall chores. Add to that the exceptional amount of pine cones on the ground and all masses of newly sprouting pine trees. I spend at least an hour picking up debris before I can start to mow.

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  13. I left all that mess last fall in the hopes it would decompose by now, but alas, it did not. 😀 So I was out there today cleaning mine up too!

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