GOOPs-Gardening Oops

Burned out – A Gardening Oops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Welcome to the first day of a new month, the day I share a Gardening Oops that I’ve witnessed or committed myself.  While pondering possible subjects for this month’s Gardening Oops – GOOPs for short – I kept running into garden blogger’s block. No topic felt right. Nothing came to mind that worked as an interesting GOOPs subject … NOTHING. This writer’s block reflected the general hum-drum feeling I’ve had of late about gardening. After a very busy May and June designing, planting, coaching, and gardening for clients and the extremely uncomfortable heat July brought to Connecticut, my energy for gardening and garden blogging came to a screeching stop. Like these hosta leaves, tired and burned from too much heat and sun, I was burned out on gardening.

I’ve been gardening for well over 30 years and blogging about gardening at least weekly since February 2009. Gardening keeps me sane, it is part of who I am, and writing about my passion, my vocation, my hobby, has always been fulfilling. Yet, through the month of August, the thought of planting the potted shrubs still sitting on my front porch … never mind the thought of writing about gardening … forced me toward other tasks. Being burned out on gardening is a BIG GOOPs in my book and actually caused me to consider terminating this GOOPs meme.

Then yesterday morning  two hummingbirds came to my rescue.  It was damp and overcast … not weather that entices one outside … when the hummingbirds, bantering over the few still-blooming pansy flowers in a basket hanging just outside my window, caught my attention. I watched as they zoomed to and fro and decided to head outside, with a fresh mug of coffee in hand, to listen to the sounds of the morning. The hummingbirds continued their antics around other blossoms. A hawk lit high in a nearby oak tree. Finches chirped as they flew from tree branch to tree branch.

I sat a while, sipped my coffee, and listened as the sounds of birds, a few tree frogs, and insects cleared my mind. I became aware of the blooms and color combinations in the beds I planted during late spring.


I took close-up notice of hibiscus blooms previously only seen from a distance.


I took stock maturing peppers knowing they will soon be ready to can for later use.


I admired the roses that are getting a second wind,


and late-blooming sedum that are starting to show a pinkish tinge.


Red holly berries blush in contrast to lustrous dark-green leaves,


and yellow-orange nasturtium blossoms glow above a few dainty lobelia blooms.


Two hummingbirds, simply doing what hummingbirds do, drew me outside, away from the long, self-imposed to-do list sitting on my kitchen counter. Two hummingbirds enticed me to re-open my senses to the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors. Two hummingbirds helped break my writer’s block and see my GOOPs … that I had spent too much time working gardens and not enough time enjoying gardens. Two hummingbirds marked the end of my burn-out and gave me back my enthusiasm for gardening.

Do you have a gardening burn-out tale or a different type of Gardening Oops story? Share it in a comment below or leave a comment that links to your GOOPs tale on your own blog. I’ll read and comment on your tales when I come back in from gardening and as September wanes to October I’m sure to come up with many more GOOPs tales to add to GOOPs previously shared.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Joene Hendry

Not missing a chance to learn–a Gardening Oops avoided

We gardeners spend so much time cultivating gardens that we often missing a chance to learn about plants growing of their own accord in natural settings. I avoided a Gardening Oops – GOOPs for short – simply by taking some time to wander outside of my cultivated beds.

What is a GOOPs, you ask? On the first of each month I write about a gardening mishap, mistake or Oops I’ve made or witnessed, then give you the opportunity to share a GOOPs of your own. I had been planning to write about all the gardening blunders I encounter during garden coaching sessions, while analyzing a garden in need of redesign, and while maintaining my clients’ gardens. But, with such glorious weather finally enveloping Connecticut, I just didn’t feel like pointing out the miss-guided gardening of others.

I decided that sharing how I did not pass up a chance to learn would be a much more suitable topic this GOOPs day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I stole some time from my work schedule yesterday to check some ‘wild’ sections of our property for Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum). We’ve been working on controlling it at one edge of the front yard, where the lawn meets moss and moss meets native grasses, Jack-in-the-pulpit and other self-sown plants. Pulling weeds, particularly Japanese stilt grass, which is rampant in my area, is a soothing activity for me. It gives me time to clear my head and refocus.

After filling about a third of an empty mulch bag, repurposed for invasive weed disposal, I wandered along other lawn-to-woods transition zones to make sure the prolific and fast-spreading stilt grass had not snuck in under my nose. During this wander I found a small group of a grass-like plants standing about four feet tall. Each plant had a center stalk with seed heads coming out of the top. The flowering units resemble chrysanthemum fireworks on the Fourth of July … the type that blasts up in a single path then explodes outward in a large circle.

I’m pretty astute at keeping watch for unusual plants in my yard and this grass-like grouping is definitely new. I thought a few clicks through the Go Botany Simple ID Key would reveal the name and details of my mystery grass. But my search required a bit more time than I expected. Go Botany led me to suspect the mystery grouping is Scirpus, but it was not easy to identify which Scirpus. For that I searched Google Images for similar-looking Scirpus.

I finally found an image of Scirpus cyperinus that closely matches the growth patterns, inflorescences, height, leaf shape, and other attributes of those growing in my yard. The plant description was a spot-on match. What I have growing is common woolsedge, a native to North America.Common woolsedge 2013-07-31 16.06.55

Through Go Botany I learned Ojibwa used the leaves of common woolsedge to weave bags and mats. Potawatomi used the fruiting heads to stuff pillows.

Woolsedge often grows in wet soils – at the edge of marshes, lakes, and rivers, but can also be found in meadows and fields. Where it is growing in my yard is not wet. The group is at the edge of the lawn, among other grasses, and next to a maple-leaf viburnum planted last autumn.

Seeds could have blown in or been deposited by an animal or bird. I suspect the heavy rains we had this spring and early summer gave the woolsedge enough soil moisture for it to establish.

Common woolsedge 2013-07-31 16.07.19I’m thrilled.

After pulling so much Japanese stilt-grass, and a fair share of young bittersweet, I’m thrilled my mystery plant is not an invasive. I’m thrilled to learn about another native plant, and that our management of the wild edges between lawn and woods has allowed more and more native plants to take hold. This is exactly what I hoped for.

How did I avoid a GOOPs? By not missing a chance to learn about this new-to-my-yard plant. By not yanking it out before finding out exactly what it is. By taking the time to wander and observe.

In essence, my GOOPs post is really a non-GOOPs … a GOOPs avoided.

Do you have a GOOPs to share … an avoided one or a real garden blunder? Tell your tale in a comment below or direct us in a comment below to your own GOOPs post on your blog. Whether yours is an avoided or committed GOOPs, your tale will give others a chance to learn.

Garden thoughtfully …


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Joene Hendry

Past due weeding–a Gardening Oops

Bags of mulch have rested quietly in the driveway for more than a month, waiting for this gardener’s attention. Meanwhile, weeds have grown and spread in the nearby perennial/shrub beds, taunting the mulch and this gardener with, “Nah, nah. You can’t get me!” Not having enough time or cooperative weather to weed and mulch the beds in the front of my house has been my gardening oops – my GOOPs – all spring into summer.

I share a GOOPs tale on the first of each month. In nearly four decades of gardening I’ve made and/or witnessed many inadvertent mistakes. I share these gardening oops – GOOPS for short – hoping others can benefit from my mistakes and observations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This morning I’m happy to share that many of the taunting weeds in my gardens have been muzzled.

This row of bagged mulch has been reduced by four, and my front beds are beginning to look more as they should … weed free and neatly mulched.

As a professional gardener, garden designer, and garden coach, spring and early summer are busy, busy, busy in gardens that are not my own. This is a good thing. I enjoy helping others turn their garden visions into reality, and during the last few months I’ve been privileged to do this in many gardens.

But working in other gardens means work in my own is pushed way down on the to-do list.

When this happens you can often hear me mutter, “If my clients’ gardens looked like mine, I’d be fired.”

Fortunately, it’s never too late to weed and mulch, and that’s exactly what I did this weekend. Unfortunately, completing these tasks when perennials are fully grown and weeds have had the time to spread makes these tasks more difficult and time consuming.

Still, it’s rewarding to convert a weed-infested planting into something worth looking at.

Before I started, the long-present lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’) was lost amongst spreading weeds. Helen did not like being covered under feet of heavy snow for so long last year. She is usually much fuller.


Hopefully, now that Helen and her nearby companions – including the common, flowering lamb’s ear planted as a border –  have been unburdened by weed competition, fertilized with a topdressing of worm castings, and surrounded by fresh mulch, all will fill in a bit.

They already look happier, don’t you think?


Now it’s your turn to share a GOOPs tale. Make a comment below or confess your GOOPs on your own blog and leave a teaser comment and link below.

Read through past GOOPs tales for ideas … some are funny, some are sad, but all are worth knowing about before committing trowel or shovel to soil.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Joene Hendry