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Did you ever suffer from a garden slump?

I have this summer; I just couldn’t get myself motivated to get out in the garden and take pictures or get excited about anything. It started in early spring with the repairing of our flat roof. It was supposed to be a simple job but turned into the “never-ending story” of home repair. We are not swimming in money to handle all the repairs, and it was, initially, carefully thought out before we started the first tear down of our flat roof in April. All the careful planning in the world can not prepare for what is hidden behind walls. Once it starts it is like a long row of dominoes..tip one and watch them FALL!!!


walls can hide all sort of ugliness!

The first project was to tear off the old roof and place a new pitched roof that would cover our former flat roof that had become a Β “bathtub” over our garage. It was a simple project that should have been done in a few weeks until they opened a wall. Our home was built-in 1968, and it was covered with dense vines when we purchased it in 1999. I tore off many of the old vines in early 2000 and found cracks on the arches next to the garage. We watched them and mended them over the next 16 years. My husband and I just got busy with raising kids and work. Over the years, we tried to repair those cracks, ourselves, but could never find anyone that did stucco in the Midwest. One time a portion of the concrete wall collapsed, and my husband had to tie it up with a string!


This spring we were thrilled when our contractor found a guy that still did stucco. It was supposed to be a simple stucco repair, and we were surprised when they found behind the cracks, rotten wood. Yep, our wall would have collapsed this year or the next if it was not repaired. I would say someone is watching out for us. This simple project was starting to expand and develop a life of its own. The carpenter had to return and tear the entire front of our house down. The workers were not gardeners, so they destroyed many of the garden beds to get the work done. It was what had to happen and to tell you the truth; I ‘ve been cleaning up ever since. I have not felt much like writing about food growing, or magical moments in the garden.


Yesterday, I went for a delightful bike ride on the river and came home and looked around at the still unfinished gutters, stucco debris, overgrown weeds, destroyed garden beds from builders trampling all my plants. I thought about running inside and hiding. How could my garden that gave me so much comfort all these years become a place that I wanted to escape from now? I pondered is this garden depression??? The very place I find solitude has become a location of frustration. It aggravated me even more that the very place; I replenished my soul was a place I wanted to run away from, how could that be? Instead of running inside, I looked up and noticed a Joe Pye covered with bees that I had planted last year. They were not complaining about how things were not perfect, whining about what it should look like, or what needed to be done. No, they were not complaining.They just were getting on with their daily work. I decided at that moment maybe that was what I needed to do.


I went inside and grabbed a cup of tea and headed out to the garden with Chance, my garden dog by my side. It was a perfect morning to get to work and find myself in my garden. I weeded for several hours, and I noticed that garden depression was disappearing. I sat down and sipped my tea and watched as the hummingbird zipped back and forth between the flowers.


I need my garden. It is the one place in the world that I can replenish my soul and find peace. I need to unplug and just go out there and sit under a tree and listen and watch nature. Our world is so filled with noise that we don’t hear nature anymore.

Today they are redesigning our gutters to redirect the water off our newly designed roof and rebuilt arches. We have been waiting for them for weeks to come since they are backed up due to people who lost their homes during a recent tornado. I thought about how I was frustrated by a little destruction and destroyed garden beds. I felt ashamed that I would be annoyed by trampled plants when there are people who lost “EVERYTHING” in a matter of a few minutes in a tornado.I decided at that moment; I would get back in the garden and be thankful. I remember my mother always saying, “when you are feeling frustrated with life, think of someone who has it tougher and you will stop feeling sorry for yourself.” I have always lived my life by that motto. I just need some reminding sometimes by my native bees that all you have to do is get back to work and do what you need to do. That simple!


Have you ever had this happen?


40 replies »

  1. Robbie so sorry to hear about the repairs to the house and all the work that has to be done. I do know what you mean about garden slump though. This year I didn’t get much done earlier on due to other commitments and the whole time I seem to be battling the elements in the garden. The wet summer means it is not always easy to get out and when I do, I sometimes turn back and head for the greenhouse or polytunnel where things are easier to handle because it is a smaller space. I agree though – once you get out there and think “one step at a time”, it gets manageable again. And there is always next year. Thankfully gardens are forgiving – we may just have to work harder to get them where we want them next time! And don’t be ashamed about having trampled plants – we would all be the same.

    • Hi Karina:-)
      I just watched a documentary on Ireland the other day and found your country too beautiful for words! Those green hills rolling along, oh my:-) I will head over to your blog and check out what you have been doing for I do miss your photos!Thank you for stopping by and letting me know, I am not alone:-) I found 3 swallowtail butterflies in my garden yesterday which is two more than I see most days. I have been busy the past year putting host plants in for butterflies in my area and seeing them float by reminds me “why” I do all the work!

      • It’s really good to see you posting again Robbie. We missed you and well done on the swallowtails – they are beauties:)

  2. We are suffering garden slumps under very different situations. I am SO sorry to hear about your walls, the expense and the garden. I know how much your garden space means to you and how just being there heals and strengthens you. I love that picture of Chase keeping watch. We are just short of the most ever rainfall falling in our district. Everything is wet, muddy and boggy. Our horrific dry summer where all of the poor trees suffered terribly is now our horrific wet winter where the poor things give up the ghost entirely and fall over/flat! Bezial adores the mud. Earl, not so much. Sanctuary is like the San Andreas tar pits with extra mud. We are currently trying to summer proof Sanctuary by hauling up 24 fridges that we are turning into wicking water beds to reduce water loss from the soil and watering cost/time in summer but it’s laughable at the moment as we can’t even put a fridge in place as they sink in the mud!! I truly feel for you Robbie and your mum taught you well. There is always…ALWAYS someone worse off than us and we really need to remember how lucky we are whenever we start to feel sorry for ourselves. The builders will be gone soon and you will have your garden back to yourself. You will be able to rethink, redesign and will soon be right back in the thick of it. Please give Chance a big cuddle from me. He is gorgeous :).

    • Hi Fran:-)
      Oh, how I miss seeing/reading about your sanctuary and visting with your site. I am heading over there today. You are always an inspiration!!! You touched my heart by saying chance was gorgeous-thank you. Most people run in fear of him and I see him as my sweetheart. He is the last of the 5 to be living, so he is my best garden buddy. However, I must admit my husband ( don) has been running a pretty close head to head with chance this summer. Don went out and weeded tons of beds with me to help me get things under control. We had to carry all the torn up wood and debris they left around. The picture above looks better than it looked after they were done. It is slowly coming back and I have tons of plants under lights for fall eating ( lettuce, arugula, mustard, beets, spinach etc). I love my food!
      It seems we are all dealing with too much water this year. I feel the cherry tree is dealing with water logged soil. I have only had to water the garden once or twice this summer. This is the midwest of USA and we always have dry spells. It is crazy. Either it is a drought or too wet-we can never win. I can’t imagine all that work trying to haul up 24 fridges. I am heading over to your blog to see what you have been up to-yikes! getting some big strong arms???? lol
      Yes, she taught us well-count your blessings each day:-)

      • We are just about to have to complete our national census in a few days and as we live “out in the sticks” the census delivery person hadn’t been to our home yet. We assumed that she would just drop off the form in our mailbox and leave a note but yesterday Steve and I were working through some video tutorials for how to create a mobile phone app and the boys were lazing around upside down near Brunhilda basking in the warm glow and we heard a “tap-tap” at the door. Earl went ballistic, Bezial wasn’t too far from it either as both had been fast asleep and the census lady had not only managed to navigate the furrowed riverlets of our ruined driveway in her little car (WE have trouble getting up here in our little 4 x 4) but she managed to climb our deck steps and open the gate and walk all the way to the sliding doors and the dogs didn’t even hear her! Steve quickly headed out the back door and shut the dividing door so that the dogs couldn’t bound out and flatten the poor woman but Steve said that she was shaking as she was filling out the census details as she was afraid of the dogs. They just wanted to get out and frolic with her and slobber but I know what you mean. People have this awful idea that pitbulls are horrible things from the media. Chance is a really beautiful looking dog Robbie and I am sure our boys would frolic like crazy with him if they ever met :). Don gets a medal in my books. Husbands might be cranky old things but they make up for it when they get in and help us when we need it. BIG hugs to Don and an extra cuddle for Chance because he is SO lovely :).

  3. I was so happy to see a post from you Robbie, but feel your despair on reading what you have been dealing with. That is SO hard!! Our homes are our sanctuaries and when they are in disrepair, everything is affected – I am not surprised you took a knock in your usually positive outlook. Of course you are working your way through it – and lovely to see that both Don and Chance have been helping out too πŸ™‚ [Siddy has a friend called Chance, an Alsatian, that he runs with in the big park when we meet up – he loves him.] And my gosh, I am pleased to hear you escaped a tornado unscathed, that would be scary! So, when the guttering is complete will that be it all done? The garden will recover and soon be as beautiful as ever – and maybe offer you some opportunities to redesign a few areas πŸ™‚ I am sending you a big warm hug and lots of encouragement to get outside into your garden to keep reviving your soul and to observe all the life that lives there so happily thanks to your thoughtful care and planning. They need you too ❀ ❀ ❀

    • I did not mention in my post- last fall and this spring I put in more “host” plants for butterflies and natives for pollinators. I noticed the day, when Chance and I were working in the garden it is filled with a wider variety of bees, moths and butterflies. I am seeing new bees that I have never seen before. A few new butterflies that have never been in our garden.It is amazing and it really does not take that much. I have to admit throught his project, I wondered if home owner-ship is all that great-lol. I will write a post next week about how important it is we repair and rebuild our cities and not just throw away things when they are no longer perfect. Once the rotten wood was thrown away and the new fresh wood was construted it felt good but-WOW-how lucky we were not to wake up to that falling down one day-that would of been awful! Lucky we caught it when we did:-)
      Miss visting with your Pauline, need to wander over and play catch-up. What fun Sid has a new friend + called Chance. It is from the movie that had a dog named “chance” Homeward Bound-I believe:-)

  4. Glad to hear you are back in your garden and back in the blogging world. Oh dear, what a tough time you have had, but now you are enjoying the garden again, all will be well.

    • Hi Chloris,
      I need to play catch-up and visit your blog in the morning after my bike ride. I am off to bed here to get up early. I always loved your blog and garden. You are one of the best garden bloggers out there, so need to get over there and see what you are doing!

  5. I feel for you. Had a mini version of the same thing in the garden this year. Get back in there. It looks worse when you aren’t in it. And when you’re in it, it’s getting better. Glad you caught the house repairs soon enough!

    • Heading off to bed and noticed your comment. You are right we caught those crumbling walls-LOL- oh, I so enjoy reading your blog. I need to stop by tomorrow and see what you are up to and how your garden grows!

  6. Dear Robbie, I would be in a funk if the same thing happened to me! I think you are very normal! We’ve had work done on our house (we even put a 2nd floor on!) and from the get-go, I let all the worker’s know how important my plantings were to me. I’m sure they thought me a b—h but hey, I was the one paying them. Luckily, plants are quite forgiving and bounce back. I’m glad you found your peace in the garden once again. πŸ™‚

    • LOL..oh Eliza, a second floor-YIKES, I would go nuts. I bet it is nice though.Not all the workers were destructive-one of the carpenters noticed some other workers that threw some plants in a pile to make room for their equipment. He saved it and showed it to my husband when he got home. I thought, what a nice kid. He grew up with a garden.

    • yes they are and I can tell you I am not the fixer up type:-) I am the type that wants a house to live in and repair when things only break. I am content to keep things simple not needing to update or redesign. I put in host plants this spring for several butterflies and they are floating around this summer-that gets me out there!

      • The butterflies must be so content. I have a hole in my bedroom ceiling caused by a flood in the upstairs bathroom several years ago. My dislike of repairs is such that I cover the hole with a poster and try to pretend it doesn’t exist. One day I will have to deal with it. Sigh.

      • OH my gosh, I can totally understand this!!!! I am the same way:-) I kept putting plants in front of all the outdoor cracks. I need new carpet( but can’t afford it right now),so I found vingar takes out stains and makes a carpet look and smell better. That project is in the future, but I can live with things as is-until they scream at me for repair:-)

  7. Hi Robbie, so sorry to read about your roof and I can sure relate about the garden. Sometimes, life gets so overwhelming we have to put some things on the back burner. Thankfully our gardens are forgiving. I had some construction projects the last year and I’m glad that I did them but boy, am I glad they are over with. πŸ™‚ So glad to “see” you again.

    • Hi Annie!!!
      Your back-oh I am so thrilled. I have stopped by your blog the past year and left comments. I have wondered where you disappeared to. How is your hilly garden? I am heading over to see your blog and so excited you are back!!!!

      • Glad to be back…..missed everyone!!! I had so much going on around here that something had to give and my blog got put on the back burner for awhile. Finally feel I’m at a good place now and ready to start blogging again. So happy to read your posts!

      • I was away from computer for a few days and did not see your reply, I am heading over to see what you are doing. I missed you!!!

  8. I’m so glad you’ve added the comments back to your blog! I know what you’re dealing with is difficult, but this too shall pass. But how hard to see all your beds trampled. That would drive me nuts, too. But it sounds like the pollinators think your garden is perfect just the way it is. πŸ™‚

    • You are so right-“this too shall pass” for that is the truth:-) You are so right and I have to admit, I feel like I have a native bee farm out there!

    • “this too shall pass”-amen sister!!! lol-ain’t that the truth. I am over it and out there digging and moving around stuff. It is like starting over and to tell you the truth they did pitch a few plants, I was thinking about taking out-so not all bad. I just needed to push myself and get out there and start working. I was thinking this year, I have a pollinator farm! I grow for them and in between food for myself:-)

  9. It’s so hard when it’s one thing after another. We’re having a similar year. A tile in the floor of our master bath cracked and fell through the subfloor, hinting at wood rot. We began to use the guest shower for the first time while we assessed repairs. The guest shower need recaulking, but in removing the old caulking the tiles started tumbling from the walls… Sourcing that leak and replacing that backboard tore the shower in half. And did I mention that our AC went out when it was bedtime for the kiddos and the car broke, all in a month?
    I’m so glad you found your inspiration and got back out there. It’s so grounding. I’m recovering from/ still getting some severe poison oak so time outside is non existent in this heat.
    It was good to see you pop back up in my screen. I’d been thinking of you.

    • wow-that is a lot + I totally get the inside repairs they can seem endless! Two small children under foot can not be easy with the AC OUT! Yikes!
      Posion ivy that is the worst-I had that last summer and the prednison did me in for the rest of the summer. I sure hope you recover and get back i your garden too. I know how posion ivy can make you not want to get back out:-( I now cover up head to toe when I weed. I look like those crazy people I use to notice weeding and think-they must be so hot! well, they were hot but did not get poison ivy.
      thank you for encouragement:-)Iam am getting back out there with new fall crops needing to get in the ground. Happy gardening + sure hope your posion ivy is better.

  10. Sending you hugs, Robbie, and gratitude for posting such an important reflection. I empathize. The challenge for me was buying a fixer upper five years ago that needed lots of work (and still does). It’s seems every year I have discovered still more issues that need attention. When I tackle one project, I have to let the rest slide. The gardens I worked so hard to clear became overrun with weeds and raspberry bushes. Like your gardens, it became just another overwhelming chore. And then, one day several weeks ago while I was sitting on my back step, I heard my neighbor’s musical voice coming from the front fence. “Oh, you’re so beautiful.” She was talking to the flowers in my overgrown front yard. I ran to catch her as she was walking away to invite her into the garden. She didn’t see the weeds. She commented with joy about the plants that were blooming. She helped me see things in a different way. In this dry spell, the plentiful unintentional plants that cover every inch of soil help protect the soil from drying out…

    I’m glad you rediscovered your sanctuary! I send my best wishes to you ❀

    • Oh Carol!!!!
      What a beautiful story-that is exactly the way we need to look at our gardens. I need to stop over and visit with you again. It has been ages. I have been so busy getting fall plants in and clearning out summer weeds that I don’t visit anyones blog that much these days. I will be stopping by soon. I miss your stories:-)
      thank you for sharing and reminding me what is important today in this world!

  11. Robbie, dear, I can so relate to the frustration – we really need to dig our hands into the earth and feel its healing powers, to watch our garden grown and make new discoveries — but I also relate to the point at which you decide to get moving again. Well done!

    • Hi Cynthia:-)
      As always, Cynthia-you know just the right thing to say! I miss visiting your blog and am eager to hear about your new book:-)

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