A Garden of Rusty Things Redux

Some background. As a young girl, I daydreamed about making things in the world perfect. I aimed for straightness, evenness, symmetry, and uniformity. No doubt about it, my ideal was a matchy-matchy universe.

I like to think I’ve outgrown that striving for balanced proportion. But no, my ideal garden is the parterre. In fact, one of the attractions of our property was its flatness, a main consideration in designing a parterre garden.

It soon became obvious that a parterre was not in the cards, at least not in this lifetime. Flat land, yes, but overrun by weeds and scrubby trees. When it rains, our backyard turns into a swamp. When it doesn’t rain, the ground develops wide cracks.

Given the money, time, and energy to design and build the hardscape to support a parterre, I’d be set. Sadly, those are the three things I don’t have.


Add to these deficits the fact that I have absolutely no sense of design. I did what I could by edging the newly planted trees – brick in the front, rubber in the back. (All thanks to Jim’s expertise.)


Still. Last year, in an effort to overcome my striving for the perfect yard, I decided on a garden of rusty things. Jim started me off with the old 500-gallon gas tank – we no longer have to drive into Kansas City every weekday and no longer need that much gas.

Followed by an old car frame, partway buried in ground and up on its side. The car frame wouldn’t stay straight in the ground thanks to our prairie winds. Now added to its imperfection is the bar running from the gas tank to the frame. Jim is infinitely inventive!


Then I saw a picture of this amazing archway covered with yellow roses and purple clematis. The photo was in a flower catalog where things are always perfect. I turned the page…

And then, while trolling one of the big box stores, I found the exact climbing yellow rose offered in that catalog. I could not resist. Stumbling over a pot of Happy Jack clematis sealed the deal.


“How are we going to mow this?” Jim asked. Oh yes, I forgot Kansas weeds. My solution was to encircle the area very much like we’ve done with the trees, using plenteous mulch. And while I went shopping yesterday, the good elves got the job done. (Thank you, Jim!)

Couldn’t resist the star. Jim figured out how to hang it so it doesn’t blow in the wind.


Maybe I’ll put coleus and an ornamental grass in the old stainless steel sink. Too bad it isn’t one of the cool enamel ones. I have an old, rusty wagon that will tart it up some more.


Here it is – so far – a garden of rusty things and some plants, mulch, and edging. I can still daydream about my parterre…



After the Storm


The sweet gum tree reflected on the barn wall after a rain storm. Such a luxury to have the time to notice things like dancing shadows!


Looks like it will be another strange weather year. Too little, then too much rain. Too warm, then too cold. Wonder what that will mean in the garden.

I’m thinking of planting more sugar snap peas while it’s still cool.

A Woman’s Prerogative

Last July, I posted about Harvesting Herbs. Back then, I thought it would be cool to have a small herb garden near my kitchen (near the door to the deck, actually). I had a huge crop of herbs but as winter closed in, the herb garden became an odiferous tangle.

“What’s that smell?” Jim would ask. And I’d reply, “Oh, that’s patchouli.” Or, “Oh, that’s thyme, or the last of the rosemary, or I’m not quite sure…”

And when I say tangle, I mean it. Just clearing the annuals out of that plot took three days!

So this year, I changed my mind.


After clearing everything except the thyme, I planted two nine bark shrubs (Physocarpus) and an oak leaf hydrangea (Ruby Slipper). This year surrounded by nine geraniums, orange and white.

I decided to put down a weed preventer since I wasn’t eating out of this garden anymore. Amazing things to be learned from a pesticide label. The commercials on TV say “Just sprinkle.” Uh no. Not quite that easy. First, this weed preventer is toxic to humans and animals. Protective gear is in order. Sprinkle on TOP of the mulch when the plants are DRY and then water in immediately.

Who knew?

My message for this week is the same as last week’s – read your pesticide label! As for the changing garden design, well, that’s my womanly prerogative.