Sunday, November 4, 2007

I Accidentally Feng Shuied My Butterfly Garden

(Thanks to Gina for the post title!)

I've been working on my butterfly garden this weekend. This is the first time that I've created a bed the right way: marking out the contours of the bed first, digging up the sod, amending the soil, and then...and only then...planting my shrubs. Usually what happens is that my car will be full of plants and I'm wandering around with a shovel thinking "Where can I put these things before I have to go to work Monday morning?" I end up digging holes wherever there is space just to get them in the ground, and invariably a month later, I decide that they would look much better over there.

That system was the chief problem with the butterfly garden. Things were jammed too close together, colors clashed, the bench was in the wrong place, the feng shui was all screwed up, and it just wasn't working.

I dug up two lantana, three spirea, a butterfly bush, and a hummingbird mint. To these I added two more butterfly bushes which have been sitting in pots on the deck all summer, some coneflowers from the bargain table, and started positioning and repositioning everything. It felt rather like trying a large ring of keys to find the one to open a door. At last, the tumblers fell into place, and the garden seemed to say to me, "Yes. This will be beautiful." Then I started digging.

I plunged my pitchfork deep into the bottom of the compost pile and came up with a trove of crumbly brown compost that I mixed in with topsoil and the native red clay, set my plants down into this mixture, and gave them a drink of our precious water. (From the watering can.)

The last element to place was the garden bench. I tried it in several spots until I found one that felt right.

You know, I used to snicker at people who did all that feng shui stuff, worrying about whether the energy was escaping from their garden or getting blocked in a corner or whatever it's not supposed to do. But I'll tell you this. The old butterfly garden never was a very inviting or relaxing place to sit. The bench was there, but I never settled in for any length of time. It was almost like "something" in the garden was nervous. In the last two days, though, even with all we have to do, Teresa and I have spent more time there than we ever have before. Maybe there is something to those ancient Chinese principles. After all, the Chinese had already developed an advanced civilization while my Celtic ancestors were bashing each other over the head with clubs, so I'm not going to scoff at something just because I don't understand it.


blueblue said...

The grass has definitely been vanquished...long live the flowers.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

No Scoffing here. However you will probably still see me moseying around the garden with shovel in hand.

Good job on the butterfly garden. Now you can sit back and know you have done your best and enjoy the space.

Gina said...

hey david! it's funny that you mention feng shui in the garden. I have noticed that I get a very peaceful feeling just from standing on my crappy patio. it was NOT there before! So now you've got me wondering if I have accidently feng shui'd my garden. I'll definately be reading up on this because, I so believe in that kinda crap! Nice work. I admire you for doing this the "right way."

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Ha! Gina, that line about "accidentally feng shuing your garden " is so funny I'm going to steal it and rename this post. That's great! Thanks!

It's supposed to be 28 degrees tomorrow night, blueblue, so I don't know how long they'll live. Thanks for visiting!

Thanks Lisa. I will enjoy it!

Connie said...

I really like the gentle curves of your new bed....very nice! Will be looking forward to seeing it in bloom next year.

Catherine said...

I like the curve of your Accidentally Feng Shuied Butterfly Garden~~Great title, great post!!

Look forward to seeing photo's of it next summer when it's in all it's glory!!~Maybe even a photo of you ~ the proud gardener setting on your bench looking all relaxed, soaking in the sun, enjoying the extra effort you put into your Feng Shuied Garden! :) Great find~getting the coneflower's for a $1.00 a piece..nice job!
Have a great week!

Carolyn gail said...

The Chinese are indeed a very clever, inventive people, however, Yankee ingenuity isn't far behind designers in America invented Feng Shui, which is now passe, according to those that set the trends. The trendsetters !

The latest is the Japanese way called "Wabi Sabi " or " If it ain't broke don't fix it " -a kind of nonchalant attitude to accept things with dents, knicks, etc. as character and art.

I'm glad you got your butterfly garden the way you want it. What you did , however, was nothing less than rearranging it in a more pleasing fashion.

I'm sorry, I'm a rock solid down to earth Taurus and can't help but laugh at that Feng Shui stuff. You don't really think people in China practice that do you ? It's like Chop Suey - it doesn't exist there.

Mary said...

I can't TELL you how many time I arrived home with a trunk load of stuff with no plans for planting. That's stress! You crack me UP!

Your butterfly garden looks delightful. You have bench to rest on while photographing Monarchs and Swallowtails all summer long.

Love it!

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Thanks Connie-me too!

That's a good idea, Cat. Look for the photo about July (when I'll be complaining about the heat again. Gina gets credit for the title.

Better not mention "Yankee" ingenuity too loudly around your Alabama friends, Carolyn Gail. ( I was in college before I realized that "damn Yankee" was 2 words.) Just kidding, my Northern friends--no emails please!

Wabi-Sabi??? Wasn't that in a beer commercial a few years back???

Carolyn gail said...

Hee-hee-hee. Just to clarify there are two kinds of Yankees : Damn Yankees, meaning those South of the Mason-Dixon, and then there's what people outside the country call us : Yankees, or Americans.

I was just funnin' you , David. I think you did a splendid job on your new butterfly garden. I hope it will continue to receive rain before the final chapter on this season closes, which is much later than here.

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Thanks Mary. You know, I saw a monarch Sunday. Shouldn't he be in South America???

Thanks Carolyn Gail. Coming from a pro, I take that as a high compliment! I'm getting worried about the water again. It's been almost two weeks since our last rain ):
We had an interesting discussion in my ESL class about the different meanings of "Yankee." My students are all from other countries and naturally assumed that "Yankee" was a synonym for "American." I had to explain is and it isn't...

Carol said...

I'm from the midwest which I guess makes me a d*mn yankee? Proudly so! Your new garden looks great, and feng shui or not, it's nice to have it arranged to be more relaxing for you and your wife. Good job!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Thanks Carol! I think Midwesterners are a species all your own. (How's come??? Nope, never heard that.)

Q said...

The butterflies love you!
This garden will look beautiful! You will be taking photos and enjoying all the different butterflies. How lovely!
I am excited for you and your butterflies.