13th Tribulations: Looking Out My Back Door

About a month ago “Professor Roush,” author of the blog Garden Musings, started a recurring post called “13th Tribulations.” His idea was that on the 13th of each month, bloggers could write about something going wrong in their gardens. We all have failures and disappointments and challenges, and I think this is a great way to remember we’re not alone in our gardening imperfections. You can check out other linked posts at his site—and if you have a blog, join in!

This is my first time posting a Tribulation, and I think I’ll start out with my biggest—both literally and figuratively.

It is, plain and simple, our back yard.

“Bother me tomorrow, today I’ll ‘bide no sorrows—
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.”
Creedance Clearwater Revival

This is the actual view out our back door and it bothers me big-time.

Well, the toys don’t, nor the wonderful shed. But the lack of plants bugs me. I’ve put all my time, loose change and energy into the front yard, so the back looks just the same as it did when we moved in two years ago.

Now you may say, why wallow in self-pity? Get off your boom-boom and plant something, Meg!

I say that to myself whenever I wash dishes. See, the view from the kitchen sink is the same.

Here’s how my conversation with myself usually goes:

I should really do something about the back yard. Just plant some shrubs, nothing fancy.

Yeah but shrubs are kind of expensive.

But right now, early fall, I could find some great deals.

On sale isn’t the same as free. Plus the sales never seem to apply to the varieties I really want.

Well I wouldn’t need to get anything really special. Just something common, usual, expected. Just some stuff that will grow and soften up the view and make Juliet’s play area nicer.

I don’t think she really cares. She’s not even two.

Still, I care. I would like it to look nice. I could buy small, young shrubs to save money.

Yeah, then it will look good maybe four or five years from now. Will we even still be in this house?

Maybe not, but what about planting for the greater good? The next people could enjoy it.

The next people? They can buy their own shrubs! They’re probably going to give us a low-ball offer and have a million contingencies on the P&S.

Generally by this point I have distanced myself far enough from reality to be completely unable to continue the discussion—particularly since we are nowhere close to even talking about moving and here I am griping about buyers from Hell. To myself, no less.

Right now it looks like I’m not going to plant the back yard in the near future (e.g., this fall). I try to congratulate myself on not spending the money, but it’s kind of hard with this view taunting me several times a day. Here’s how it looks from our dinner table:

Appetizing, huh?

So that is my Tribulation for this month. I’m glad I finished it because I really prefer to keep my little problems bottled up inside! Overall I’m happy with my front-yard garden and more than thankful for the time we spend playing in the back yard, even if it is a barren wasteland.

Thanks for reading my vent!

Find links to other September 13 Tribulations at the Garden Musings blog.

Garden bloggers, make a note to participate next month!

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27 thoughts on “13th Tribulations: Looking Out My Back Door

  1. When I read this, after I giggled and snickered through your post, my mind started working…. what can I send her from my garden. I started visualizing some of my Sweet Autumn volunteers on the fence, Japanese anemones, softly pink against the brown of the fence, and sedums trailing over the stones. And lilies. I have more lilies (hemerocallis) than I know what to do with. Blue Mist, Labrador and wood violets, astilbe, some seeds from my giant mallows and columbine, and a gift of a couple of double knock-out roses and I had the bed along the fence all planned.

    I suspect I’m not the only one who thinks that way. When I was growing up back in the day (more than a half century ago) and someone was either ill, had a new baby, or there was a death in the family, it was customary to leave a pie or casserole by the door. I hope your address is a well kept secret. Us baby-boomers are a fearsome lot. If we can find you with a GPS, you may need to hire someone to help move the gifts of love from the driveway to the back LOL.

    Seriously, I love a blank slate… I would find it hard not to get out there and dig in the dirt. Perhaps next spring, you could introduce your daughter to the joys of gardening, plant some seeds together – marigolds and (ugh, I’ll never look at them the same way again) morning glories, and maybe some strawberries or green beans or lettuce. it could be the start of a shared hobby.

    • Hi Cathy, thanks for your comment! I agree, gardeners are the most giving group of people — whether its of time, advice or plants. Or usually some combo of the three! I do hope my daughter will be ready to plant with me next spring and we’ll tackle the back yard together. She loves to explore the front garden and watch bees and butterflies. She’s also been known to hug certain plants. I think by next spring she’ll be ready to dig a little and plant with me. Something to look forward to!

  2. Hi, Meghan, we built a small home for retirement. The garden is 12 yrs. in the making.My neighbor whose backyard is my personal view from my sink,has a junkyard, I kid you not.Much more space is required to name it all. Just start with 12 broken down cars, and weeds taller than the cars.We built a fence and are waiting for the tree (tried bamboo & other plantings) to block the “view” The space from house to fence is 12 feet, my hummingbird border is there. My 5 kids are grown, but like you I spend much time at the sink. I have a Cert. Wildlife Habitat and a Veg. & Herb garden mixed in with 1000’s of plants, shrubs,bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers, herbaceous and E.Green plantings. No lawn anywhere. My front tree (YAY)is now 30’X 25’prox. Us gardeners are a hopeful lot & I am blessed to be associated with such a generous group of people. Marian

  3. Not to sound like a ‘know-it-all’ but I can see that fence covered with vines, such as morning glory “Heavenly blue” or the fall blooming Clematis. Planting a few large containers around the perimeter would also warm the area.
    Good blog post.

    • Hey Chris, you don’t sound like a know-it-all! I appreciate the input. I had been focusing on the ground as a place to start but yes, softening up the fence and adding a few containers would go a long way in a short time.

  4. Your temporary solution is CURTAINS–preferably with a lovely floral print. I always start my gardens in the back yard, since that’s the personal space, and more important to me. If the front yard is unbearable, I install the bones of the future plan–tne basic foundation shrubs (I particularly like Azaleas, Boxwood(b. sempervirens suffruticosa is the only one I use), and
    Cherry Laurel (aka English Laurel, ha ha–it’s neither English nor a laurel)). Uh-oh, I better stop, too many paretheses!

    • Hi Jacquelyn — point well taken! Oh and I love boxwood too — out front I have three ‘Green Velvet’ and a ‘Green Tower’. They’re my other babies.

  5. What a fun blog theme! Is there a chance you will run out of ideas?!

    I saw some containers this summer that were perched on a 3-4′ piece of wide PVC pipe. A trio of containers on risers would give you something lovely to look at when you sit at your table. Whatever, once you act you will say, why didn’t I do this before?!

    Thanks for an entertaining blog.

    • Hi Bonnie — I tend to think of myself as a positive thinker but the truth is I’m sure I can find something to gripe about in the garden once a month.

      The PVC pipe idea sounds cool. And I could sit at the table and harken back to my more reckless days when “PVC pipe” was synonymous with “potato gun.”

      Agreed — generally once a project gets underway, the thinking is “now what was really so complicated about that?”

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Start simple-add color to the fence- Morning glory, moon flowers scarlet runners, etc any kind of climbing plant that flowers will bring some life and color to your view of the fence. Yeah, my wife says that MG’s are weeds but they do produce lots of color and like weeds you can control them. If budget is a problem, We asked friends and family for cuttings of plants we liked when the budget wouldnt allow- and now we pass them back and forth to friends in need of green.

    have fun with it!

    • “like weeds you can control them”

      The last house we lived in (thankfully our LAST rental) had morning glory growing through the laundry room walls. I know somebody else who had it growing through her bathroom walls and twining around her shower curtain rod.

      I still think the plant is pretty, but I try to kill it whenever possible. Morning glory is worse than cockroaches. It can survive anything.

      • My first thought was COOL, the blue morning glories would be stunning growing over and around the shower rod in my bathroom. And I have some seeds!

        THEN it hit me. The didn’t WANT the morning glories there… they had invaded the walls and they couldn’t get them out. Now THAT is SCARY!

  7. I spent 3 years, after moving into our Centennial house, planting a beautiful perennial garden in the back yard that we see from the living room. This spring we put in 2 raised beds for vegetables in the only place that gets full sun all day…….unfortunately, it’s right in front of part of my flower garden so my “view” is now filled with scraggly tomato plants and overgrown bean plants. NOT happy…..

  8. All my flower beds are like that. Actually, they are mostly a mass of weeds, because I tend to focus on the edibles. Like you, though, I’m starting to think that I need to tackle the other areas.

  9. Great post, Meghan! To me, your backyard tells of a common story in a gardener’s life, one of a period where the gardening sometimes takes a second seat to the growing family, limited by the budget after diapers and toddler clothes, and relegated to the few moments where you aren’t exhausted. Someday you’ll have more time for that backyard or the next one, but you’ll miss the slides and toys as I do now. Thanks for cross-posting on Garden Musings and let us hope that the number who post on Thirteenth Tribulations increases in months to come!

    • My pleasure — I love your idea and I’m sure we can get some more folks chiming in. And thanks for your kind words helping me keep everything in good perspective.

      • I know. More comments. I so enjoy communicating with other Gardeners. I will most definitely be posting. Thanks for the great idea, and putting it into action. It denotes the gardener in you that acts when possible, which when we have Juliet’s in our lives, certain time consuming activities take a backseat. Rightly so. When you have time to pot up something, or whatever you find to be the best solution for your personal needs and wishes, you will. It is almost funny the way some gardening books etc., make it sound as though potting up a 2′ X 12″ pot is just an hour of time. Hahahahah.

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