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Burned Out

Posted by mikey SoCal-Z10-22/23 (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 12:37

Anyone else tired of gardening and needed a time-out? After I built a pond in the late 90s I became fanatic about gardening. My taste in gardening ranged from desert plants to tropicals. I became a regular customer at specialty nurseries; I was active on the plant exchange forum; I attended local plant exchanges and hosted a few; I attended spring garden tours and participated in some; I became a member of a couple of local botanical gardens; most of my new friends were fellow gardeners; our garden became a year-round habitat for monarch butterflies; I attended the spring and fall plant sales at local botanical gardens; I built an outside compost bin and an indoor worm bin. I removed all our lawn in order to expand my gardening habit. Soon I ran out of dirt to play in but because I lived in a corner house I had two strips of grassy parkway that I soon invaded and conquered. I was a happy camper.

Then about two years ago I started losing interest in gardening. I believe it started with raccoons that had become regular visitors to the pond. At first they were no problem but over the course of a few years they became quite destructive and two years ago I abandoned the pond and about the same time lost interest in gardening. My once neat garden is now a mess. Weeds are in abundance. Garden paths are unkempt and even impassable.

Now after two years of gardening burn-out the spirit of gardening is slowly returning to me but the task ahead of reclaiming the garden is daunting.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Burned Out

  • Posted by chadinlg zone 9%3B Sunset 15 (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 14:20

Its a lot easier to create the garden than it is to maintain it.
With time I can find interest in doing what comes easily (growing things which like my climate in a way which requires less maintenance) rather than swimming upstream to some imaginary island.
It's a journey of discovery which you have to make yourself, it can not be told to you.


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  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 18:27

I tend to shut down every year in the dog days of summer. Long stretches of 100* weather sends me into a tailspin.

I get re-invigorating in the cooler temps of Fall knowing that all the wonderful citrus and fresh greens are just around the corner. Growing stuff that I like to eat helps keep me motivated most of the time.


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The persistence of the wildlife can wear you down. We can not afford to fence our acreage and are overwhelmed with destructive pests. It cost $200 last year to get the rats under control and the deer were more destructive than ever, almost nothing was spared. I hope to reduce the gophers this year. It almost makes mobile home living attractive. Al


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This year the protracted heat really got to me. I psyched myself into thinking if I could just make it to the end of September I'd bounce back into gardening mode. But of course the heat kept right on going--I felt so betrayed. It also left not nearly enough time to put the garden to rest for the winter--and now suddenly it's the holidays, I have this little pot ghetto of guilt staring at me whenever I step into the back yard--which I've started to avoid doing.


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RE: Burned Out

  • Posted by mikey SoCal-Z10-22/23 (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 20:36

Here's how our backyard pond and part of the front yard looked in days past... I'm too embarrassed to show what it presently looks like...

Photobucket

Photobucket


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Your front garden reminds me of a costa mesa or newport beach home I drove by once. We have italian cypress which have become raccoon penthouses. Forget about seedlings or anything under 1 gallon size. They rip them out looking for things to eat. They knock over pots and garden art and get muddy paws on lawn furniture cushions. Raccoons ate all my pond fish and the possums used it for a bathroom. We don't have a dog. As I understand it, a couple of good sized dogs will keep raccoons and possums away. Deer, rabbits and gophers are worse so I just learned to live with the raccoons.

I plant in hanging containers and the critters leave big roses alone. I gave up vegetable gardening in favor of growing fruit trees. If you give them big areas of mulch to dig in, they will leave the flowers alone. It won't stop them from overturning pots looking for bugs to eat. I could never solve the pond issues. I took my pond out. By the way congratulations on the pond, it looks fantastic. Perhaps if you could make a beautiful dry creek out of it if you don't want to maintain it as a pond. The water is a big draw for the animals. My raccoons only work my yard over a few times a week now. When I had a pond they were here every night.

My other advice is to grow everything up to 1 gallon size before planting and put the small stuff up on a table where the racs can't reach it. Anything under 1 gallon, a full grown rac can rip out with ease.

What is that beautiful climbing rose on the arch in front? Your garden is still full of amazing stuff. Don't let the animals spoil it for you.


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RE: Burned Out

  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 22:02

A big YES....this summer I just go so fed up with the constant watering and the constant enduring heat and high water bills that I just quit caring. I'm rethinking everything...


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I too got worn out by the animals for whom my gardens were a giant oasis, especially in the summer. We moved this last year and I have to admit I'm beginning to miss all my flowers... but not the gophers.


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One time the weeds got the best of me and I had so many different and rare things I got from the green scene, south coast's spring show and the LA arboretum plant society and Huntington Library's annual sales. They were all planted close together like you have but they were overrun by weeds.

I got a bunch of used nsy pots at the swap meet and dug everything up that was not a tree or large shrub. Then I kept spraying for weeds. The back was a big pot ghetto but in the end I only lost a few due to letting them get overgrown and drying out in the summer heat. You are closer to the ocean so it might be easier for you. What if you put some boards over the pond for a while and set your pots there while you rework the area? I had a big truck load of potting mix delivered and I potted everything I could pot. It was actually good because I was able to sell off excess stuff at a garage/plant sale and let go of stuff I wasn't that interested in anymore or were more trouble to care for than I wanted to do anymore. Now I have less variety but it's stuff I really like and have time for. I ended up with more space for the things I wanted more of and I was able to beat the weeds back to the point where it's a reasonable amount of work instead of the monster chore I dreaded.

Starting over with your plants in 1 and 5 gallon pots gives you a chance to refine and rethink your garden. When you start planning and planting again, you will get out of your slump. When the spring weather is here and the plants look good after being in the pots a few months, it will be easy to get the inspiration back again and you will make better choices the second time around.

Karl from the rose forum has a good solution for weeds if you don't like to spray. He puts down cardboard and tops it with mulch. This works well with roses and bigger plants where the spray causes damage. I like spectracide's weed and grass spray over roundup because it works faster and doesn't hang around in the soil to stunt plants the way roundup did.


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I hear you, Mike. I'm tired too. I have been cutting back dramatically on the high-maintenance stuff. But then it's less interesting, isn't it?

I have a large dog, which solved the raccoon problem. I let the herons eat the fish. I never had koi, just goldfish, and if all of the goldfish get eaten I will just have mosquito fish. I also have pigwire over all of my veggie beds and hardware cloth underneath to prevent gophers.

I have eliminated the cactus, the succulents, and the potted plants that require hand-watering. Almost everything is on automatic sprinklers now. Annuals are almost all gone- I only planted three kinds of seeds this year. As plants get overgrown or ugly, I am substituting small shrubs. The water bill keeps going up even though I am using less and less water, so the flower hobby will be ending soon anyway.
Renee


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  • Posted by dis_ z9 CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 1:45

I got burned out a very long time ago. The last few years I have planted mostly trees. I get shade which is nice to sit under and keeps the weeds down. I planted a bunch of Crape Myrtles to provide color in Summer and Fall. I'm letting them go multitrunked so they require very little tending to other than water.

Along the fenceline is a very large and mature arborvitae hedge which never gets weeds and needs little attention. The front garden is gradually being over shadowed by planetrees. I don't rake the big leaves- another weed smotherer.

Oh and there are vines all over and Matilija Poppy everywhere.

My garden isn't ugly, it's just kind of wild looking. The birds like it, including the occasional Cooper's hawk.


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  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 10:40

Mine is wild also...I prefer it that way.....good thing.
I really think this last year just wore many people out.


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RE: Burned Out

Yes yes! Especially at this time of year, the weeds are my bane. Gardening is basically a process to somehow get my plant passion under control to create a peaceful environment.

Simplify simplify simplify is my mantra, but I keep coming home with plants anyway... But I only allow myself the toughest workhorses. All the work is growing fruit and veggies, and the weeds. Actually , a lot of the work is in the edit, digging plants finally established up yet again to move or get rid of.

Renee, thats funny, I have an excess of pots with agaves & assorted succulents and I rationalize they are easy care.

A book I have found very inspiring is The New Low-Maintenance Garden by Valerie Easton

Here is a link that might be useful: new low maintenance garden


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And, I forgot to mention, the attention frost tender plants require, I spent too much time over the last 2 days protecting succulents in case of a frost, which barely happened, fortunately.

I resolved, once the rest of the garden grows in, it is eventually going to be survival of the fittest. Aeoniums especially are so fast and easy to propagate it was too tempting, even though I knew better. Its all good until the rare winter frost hits.


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I too have had garden burnout several times. I used to plant two large flower beds with annuals, twice a year. I used around 20 flats. This started to get old after many years and killed my back. I then decided to switch to perennial gardening and I do very little and the flower beds looks great, even this time of year.

I have a koi pond and even though we have lots of racoons where I live, they have only been a problem one time. I am not sure why this is. Last summer I had my pond redone and went from 2,000 gallon to a 4,500 gallon, with a 4ft depth. So the koi have a safe place to hide if needed. I used to have heron problems, and they still come around late spring, but the koi are so big now that the heron can't get them. My largest koi is now around 30 pounds. But I did lose all my goldfish and when the koi were smaller I lost several.

But there are still frustrating things, two weeks ago my water lily somehow uprooted out of the tub and was floating for several weeks. My 16 year old son and I pulled the tub out, re-potted it and put that heavy container back in the pond, only to find out a couple days later it had uprooted again. VERY FRUSTRATING, this time I am leaving it and if it dies, it dies.

Reflecting as I am writing this, I think I get garden burnout when I get life burnout. But don't feel guilty, just allow yourself to have this non-gardening time. It will allow you to slowly recharge.

Karin


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  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 15:25

True...my garden burn-out at this time is, I think, very much affected by life-burnout. And there are times that I think I would have less to do if I stopped looking at new plants, 'cause after you buy them, you DO have to bring them home and plant them. So I'm not looking at new plants, not looking to see what Annie has to offer and not being tempted by seed trades. I'm trying to focus on what I really love which are trees and right now all of the grasses and a wildscape.....well, and maybe some rudbeckia maxima...and maybe some more cistus...and you know, all those things that smell good......
I did last week give away about 250 pots of plants...less to water....and take care of...


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  • Posted by jkom51 Z9 CA/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 20, 12 at 19:37

So much grows in CA, and year-round at that, that burn-out is pretty common. Gardening's like a treadmill, you can't just do it once and forget about it. Gotta keep on it, or it all falls down.

I think it's natural to go from the 'running' mode down to 'jogging' or heck, even 'walking' mode, when it comes to gardening. Yes, it takes more work to plan a lower-maintenance garden, but it'll make it easier on you (and your body) overall.

Of course, I should talk, LOL. We have more garden than house (and the state of my dust bunnies is pretty alarming at almost any given time), and since I have fifteen separate large beds going up and down hill, even the low-maintenance beds take some regular work!


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  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 22, 12 at 2:45

I remember your beautiful garden Mikey and attended a plant sale at your home. It was delightful and I still have the plants I got at the trade.

I think a simple not-too elaborate garden can still be very satisfying. Figure out how much maintenance will not be too much and plant to meet that goal. There are so many wonderful plants out there that require almost no work.

You might just have to pull everything out and start fresh. I hope it becomes fun again for you.


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  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 22, 12 at 10:14

That's very true. Often the joy is in creating the garden more than maintaining it and sometimes our view of what we want our garden to be changes in small ways, or even in large ways. Especially if we've been gardening for a number of years. What I want in garden now is quite different from what I've planted in the last 40 years. I will be anxious to get started again once we've sold and moved. I've said that I'm burnt out on gardening, but actually I'm planning what I will plant in a new polace...lol...
Still, while I'm still here I've been pulling out an awful lot of stuff that I'm tired of watering and someone else may not want to maintain....


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Your gardens are (were) beautiful... but you know I just love raccoons. They are so intelligent and adorable, and they have to eat, too! Animals will always be more interesting to me than plants, so I could never begrudge them such an oasis - imagine how the animals of all kinds must feel in coming across these places in a desert of monocultural crops, decimated forests, chemical laden lawns and pavements? Just trying to show you the bright side - that contributing to variety in landscape is worth more than just aesthetics.

I've noticed in many walks of life that people who throw themselves into something 110% can hardly ever sustain that level of enthusiasm, financial investment and energy for long.

That's OK - the advantage of gardens and plants over animals is that no thinking/feeling creature suffers if you decide you need a break from gardening!


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The more you impose a preconceived theme on your garden in defiance of your limitations of climate, the more attention your garden will require. Natural gardening, native-plant gardening, drought-tolerant gardening and low-maintenance gardening are all similar approaches to finding the balance between cultivation and benign neglect that frees you from garden servitude.
You don't say how much square footage you're indentured to, but that can make a big difference. Maybe your needs would best be served by a relatively small pocket of high-maintenance favorites within a natural-garden setting. Decide exactly what garden chores you resent the most: watering...weeding...tidying up...lawn mowing...protecting frost-sensitive plants...pruning? There are specific approaches for minimizing any of those tasks.
The garden that takes care of itself is an aspirational goal that will never be 100% achieved. But you can come very close. You just have to make low-maintenance a design priority and be happy with the plant choices that result.


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Got there some time ago. At the moment I am doing minimal maintenance but focus mostly on clearing out unwanted plants and subsequent clean up. But certain plants I do try to water weekly though most of the yard, back and front, goes without any real watering except in very dry times when I spray down. Grow several natives and just let them go and trim back as I feel inclined. my greenhouse is basically gone with no heat and only a few plants hanging on tho' this winter may finish those except for the Psilotum. May end up tearing it down. Love the time outside but not that much time to spend as inside time is more important because it is quieter than outside and during summer not smoke-filled as there are bbq pits in the adjoining park and the smoke just spreads into my yard. Not too pleasant to smell the buring grease.
Would like to revitialize the yard but at my age I need to concentrate on revitalizing me!


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If you get the weeds before they go to seeds.... I use a micro bark now and then I go out and get them when they are tiny so it is not so much work. Big weeds? forget it, too much work. I use round up but I never have to do that at all any more. I gave up digging up big weeds. It gives me carpal tunnel.


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  • Posted by mikey SoCal-Z10-22/23 (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 30, 12 at 11:41

Thanks for the encouraging words.

Tropical-Thought: Your right about getting weeds out before they go to seed. I was quite meticulous at doing that in the past but now I am paying the price....

KittMoonBeam: The pink climbing rose is a 'Cecile Brunner'. The fetching Mrs. Mikey enjoys walking through the entry arbor when it is in full bloom as the smell is wonderful.


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With the winter, did the animals finally give you a break?


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  • Posted by mikey SoCal-Z10-22/23 (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 5, 13 at 2:25

Last night my wife was startled awake when she heard the screen door on the bedroom door that opens up to our back yard making noise as if someone was banging against it. She then heard the crunching noise of someone walking on the leaves outside. She turned on the floodlight over the back door and was relieved to see about five masked bandits.... Two were in the tree next to the window, a coupe were running around the pond and the others were rooting around in the leaves looking for grubs. Four were quite young and there was one large one.

To answer your question, now that I have given up on the pond the raccoons don't bother me. Today I was out back picking some limes and I noted that they did a pretty good job of turning the soil over in the veggie garden. I didn't plant a winter crop and the soil had about four inches of compost on top, ideal habit for grubs, and I'm sure the raccoons found quite a few. We also have possums as regular visitors but they have never been a problem.


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We've lived here 30 years and I'd never, ever seen a raccoon on my property until I made a small half barrel pond with some small fish. Yep, coonie found it right away and I decided that a pond was not to be...it's okay, I like the raccoons, well, like the possums too.


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I have a fenced garden in back and open garden in front and live on the edge of open parkland above a canyon. We have deer raccoons wildcats coyotes possums rats owls and hawks. The deer used to use the front as a salad bar until I planted things they won't touch like echium geraniums grasses pujas and anything fuzzy aromatic and spikey. I've been startled by them staring in the bay window and I'm getting old enough to wet my pants in said conditions. I've been hit in the head by an owl going after my dog and chased into a tree by a cow looking for my other dog who got out of his collar and bolted, have been head to head with a raccoon in the recycling container when I opened the front door, chased by a mad skunk that my former rat terrier, may she rest in peace, pounced on before it got to spray me and our Italian greyhound. A townhouse in the city is on my bucket list. But, I persevere with what I got. Since I'm an inpatient gardener and maintain a mantra of if you don't make it in my garden, you are mulch, I plant hardy stuff that does not need much trimming and can freeze when it's cold in the winter without kicking it. First thing that went buying this house was grass. Replaced it with ground ivy. A weed in England but a plant here. Looks great. Takes care of its own. My biggest challenge is pulling up oxalis the squirrels tend to plant thinking the bulbs are nuts. And well, the birds plant things by other means if you catch my drift. I even had a gardener come and down two trees in back because they dropped too many leaves to clean up. There are plenty of trees in the woods and I can use the sun for my stuff. And those weeds you have came from somewhere. Just tell the neighbors you have a plot of exotics. Enjoy it at their peak and mow it all down. And if you want to amend your Eden put in some die hard varieties that suppress weeds like Archangel lamium. It grows in shade, has great color and can be maintained by wrapping around your wrist and yanking. I put in a sage recommended by a lady shopping at the garden center who merely said that stuff I was looking at is great, she whacks the blank out of it and it comes right back. My sort of plant...


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Quite similar to the encounter my husband had a week ago when opening the compartment to the generator on the old motorhome...came face to face with a possum and being as he was squatting down, couldn't get his feet moving fast enough in trying to back out...wish I'd had my camera.....


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There was a moment in May, before the endless fogbank that was June/July near the beach, that I really liked my garden.

Oh, powdery mildew, I hate you. I've come to like winter gardening more than summer gardening, which is just weird.


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Ponds are really a lot of work. I would like a water feature, but I know it will be too much work and cost. You have to clean out the pond from time to time. A hot tub would be more my style, at least that you put a lid on it. I have seen them with big lids when you are not using it you put on a lid, that keeps out raccoons and fallen leaves etc...


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  • Posted by jenn SoCal 9/19 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 8, 13 at 1:04

Mikey, good to see you here again. I've been there a few times after long stretches of seemingly non-stop gardening. There are times I wish we had a long cold winter in which everything goes completely dormant or dies to the ground. But nooooooooooooooo..... the growing season goes on and on and on and on and on.....


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I haven't been on the site for a couple of years, And here Mikey explains why. The garden had become a part time job, and a burden. I was wearing out pruning shears and machetes so I could walk though the jungle. Last fall I started a taking our everything That I wouldn't plant today. It's very hard for me to remove healthy plants, but I'm getting better at it. I must have the largest compost pile in the area. Worst was a large clump of oldhami bamboo. I'm glad to see a few names that I recognize of the faithful still on the site.


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  • Posted by wcgypsy 10 / Sunset 23 (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 18, 13 at 11:57

Well, our 30 degree nights are gone...I hope for good...and I can open the doors and windows this a.m. and go out in short sleeves and shorts. It will be 80 degrees here today. And, guess what? Suddenly I'm not burnt out...think I'll go out and scrape down some weeds in the paths. I think as soon as you get a nice day, it will be a fresh start and you'll want to get back outside. Even my Garden Girl is happy....


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