Catastrophe: a September Garden Progress Report

There’s nothing quite like coming home from a long, hard day’s work to find a tag on your doorknob from the water department telling you that the water main has ruptured… on *your* side of the meter.

There is nothing like being a gardener, and waking to the sight of a backhoe sitting on your lawn.

The pin oak is a very quiet friend to the squirrels, the blue jays, the hummingbirds, the owl and me.

These delicate swamp azaleas have no business trying to grow in southern Illinois.
It has taken all of my cunning and an entire decade to bring them along from 5 inch seedlings.

It was really hard to get them to live, no less to bloom.

Really, really, really hard.

Here’s what is left of them.

Creatures live under the pin oak,

and in the dry shade bed right beside it.

I planted each and every one of them.

Some of them I  grew from seed.

I’m sorry to whine, but…

they were really hard to grow from seed.

Really, really, really hard.

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I keep trying to find humor in the situation.

This is, after all, a First World Problem.

But I can’t front:

as a gardener, I’m ill.

Just ill.


17 thoughts on “Catastrophe: a September Garden Progress Report

  1. Kami Landy says:

    And tomorrow: planning!

  2. OH, my goodness! Well, just push through and replant… What else can you do? Did you get to dig up any of your plants, or did they just go right through them?

  3. Laurrie says:

    You can try to be even tempered about this — stuff happens — but oh, how I feel for the loss of your garden treasures. I understand the pain of it. I am assuming the pin oak was not taken down .. may it recover from the assault to its roots and may the wildlife recover from the disruption. Then you will replant. But ow.

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      The pin oak was not taken down, but it’s always a question of how the root system has been damaged. Luckily, a pin oak tends to have a fairly vertical root system, so maybe it will be able to shrug off the soil disturbance. I won’t know if it was shocked, at a systemic level, until spring. We’ll see if it witch-crazes or not… I’m feeling a bit more level headed this morning, btw! 🙂

  4. Margaret Katranides says:


  5. I would be devastated. There is no humor in this, only grief and new plants that will feel like interlopers for a long time. I’d have a good cry for a few days and then head to the nursery.

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      I’ve had a good cry, and this morning am feeling a little bit more rational. I’m already starting to “plot” — looking at the mess of soil the excavator left behind speculatively. I could expand the bed to be shaped in a new way… After a few more cries I’ll start thumbing through my favorite books… then I’ll probably start to quiz you — my favorite dry shade gardener — and then I’ll start looking at my bank account. And have another cry. By then, I’ll have a plan… 🙂

      • I’m redesigning most of my shade gardens this fall and will gladly share the plant list with you as well as all the little dirty details. Ok, bad pun but I couldn’t resist. :o) I’m trying a few new dry shade plants and they damn well better be amazing cuz I’m blowing almost my entire gardening budget with two plant orders at Lazy S and Plant Delights. I can just feel Mother Nature’s foot up my ass again. 😉

  6. No humor…I am so sorry for your loss. It is devastating as a gardener as these living things were loved and nurtured and they were ripped up as if they were nothing. You will need time to mourn and then decide what you want to do.

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Thanks for your words. The morning brings new perspective. Some of the plants weren’t ripped up, they were crushed and buried by the back hoe treads, and beneath piles of displaced clay. Some of them were dormant, so I’m hoping, maybe, if I clear the rubble from on top of the bed, and apply some emergency soil-rejuvenating first aid, those will be able to pop up again in the spring. Native plants are tough little critters.

  7. Oh nooooooooooooo!!! (Did u hear my gasp, several states away this morning?) Oh, you poor thing, yes, it’s OK to cry & it’s *not* whining. U are honoring the loss of the system of life u have nurtured & that is just what the situation calls for. Wishing u healing deep breaths and future health to the pin oak!!!

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Your sympathy means a lot. There is a part of me that winces to be so upset. There is definitely a critical voice in my head going, “Jaysus, woman! They’re just a bunch of plants. It isn’t as if the back-hoe treads ran *you* over!” Well… yes, it feels like they did, just a little bit. This was a labor of love, a labor of self-love, and an incredible investment in time and attention to detail at a time in my life when I was younger, stronger, with energy to spare. The thought of repairing and replicating such a labor of love?

      Well, it will work out, in the end.

  8. Hey, just checking in on ya…it’s been quiet on the Sho’Nuff front for a coupla weeks… 😉

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      I’m missing this blog. But the academic year is back in full swing, the kids need help with homework, and the garden is less salient to me right now as a result. I’m posting a new one some time today. Thanks for having me on your mind, Lori.

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