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Gardening is a work in progress

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Really, wasn’t it hard during that stretch of unseasonably warm weather in March not to get out in the back garden and plant something?

My garden-loving neighbor and I took a trip to the local home and garden center around that time and I have to admit, I was disappointed, even as I reminded myself that in March, we could still possibly wake up with six or more inches of snow on the ground. When it comes to gardening, patience is everything.

Perfectionists who I know look at their gardens and only see the end vision. Realists know that gardening is always — year round — a work in progress.

This year, I’m pulling up old edging and installing brick pavers. Two old bushes are coming out to be replaced by the ever-blooming roses I’ve had my eye on since last fall. When I dig out that tired old evergreen, the shady corner will be perfect for some fern and hostas that will spread and fill the area nicely.

My gardens are small and manageable for someone who works at it as a hobby, but they are a collective gift of my hands and provide me with hours of enjoyment spring, summer and fall. What will be the gift of your garden this year?

Randy Reise, Cedar Lake: My son Eric is 6 and I hope to get him interested in the family garden this season. My dad encouraged me when I was his age and I would like to pass along that love of growing things to him. We’ve been pouring over seed fliers since the beginning of the year. So far, we’ve settled on lettuce, squash, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, some herbs and, Eric’s pick, a pumpkin patch. I look forward to the time we’ll spend preparing the earth, seeding, weeding and watering.

Jamie Hardiston, Lowell: This will be my year to tackle a rose garden. We moved last fall and I now have the perfect spot so I’ve spent the winter learning about soil, light, pruning, feeding, watering, etc. I’ve always been scared to try roses, but I figure if I don’t jump in with both feet and try, I’ll never know. I’m looking at it as a real learning opportunity.

On a final and somewhat different note, May is Food Drive Month for Animal Shelters. Just as food pantries struggle to keep up with the demand during hard economic times, shelters are on overload with the influx of animals being given up by families who can no longer afford to care for them. Most will accept donations of food, but you might want to call first to see if they have any criteria or special needs.

One thing I discovered when I asked a while back is that donations of canned food can be a real treat for the animals, especially older pets. So, if you are able and inclined, pick up some extra pet food the next time you’re at the store and drop it off at the shelter. The staff and the animals will be grateful.



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