Garden Blitz

Courtesy of Emily Landmann
Patrice Peltier

What is blitz?

As I begin the third growing season of writing this column, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the idea of blitz. What the heck is blitz? 

I named this column “Garden Blitz” after an expression coined by a friend. He jokes about his many years of wedded blitz. Anyone who’s ever been married understands his meaning. Blitz is joy, contentment, fulfillment and wonder tempered by the ordinary irritations and occasional setbacks of daily life. It’s mostly sweetness … with just enough other stuff to keep it from being cloying.

Gardening is also full of blitz. We gardeners get hooked by the promise, the mystery and the beauty of growing plants despite the sometimes daily disappointments and frustrations that are part and parcel of the experience.

Has this ever happened to you?

•    Tiny green shoots break through barren soil that showed absolutely no signs of life just yesterday. The miracle of it is astonishing.

•    The welcome sight of cherry blossoms makes your heart soar. Spring has finally banished winter! Overnight another sign of spring, pouring rain, knocks all those petals to the ground.

•    The avocado pit you rooted as an experiment is now a tree big enough to move outside for the summer. By fall, it will be too big to move back into the house.

•    The plum tree is covered with so many blossoms you can already taste the fruit. Once the fruits form, birds eat every single one.

•    You assured your sainted spouse that you knew exactly what you were doing when you pruned the lilacs. It takes three years for said lilacs to prove you were right.

•    Your roses open to lovely, fragrant blossoms. The plants are beautifully full and lush. Then Japanese beetles skeletonize all the leaves.

•    Plants you gave up for dead last fall are making a vigorous comeback. You have a green thumb!

•    Big, fat buds form on your prize lily. Before they open, deer eat them.

•    Before you enjoy your first BLT of the season, your tasty red tomatoes turn inedible due to Blossom End Rot. But new tomato plants sprout from seeds left by last year’s plants.

•    The coneflowers that harmoniously blended with other plants have generously reseeded taking over half the garden. You have to re-establish your design, BUT you have plants to share.

•    You moved three plants from a spot where they were malingering. Now they are flourishing! Maybe you do know what you’re doing!

•    Hundreds of spring bulbs you ordered in July arrived after the weather turned nasty in November. If your sainted spouse has noticed them rotting on a garage shelf, he has kindly failed to mention it. 

With so many setbacks, why do gardeners keep returning to the soil spring after spring with renewed hopefulness and enthusiasm? I have no answer. Gardening is a wonderful and compelling, disappointing and maddening, healthy addiction I can’t kick. In other words, it’s blitz.

Patrice Peltier lives in Spring Green and writes regularly for Wisconsin Gardening, Chicagoland Gardening and The Landscape Contractor magazines. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens and Midwest Living magazines.