I think I’m hitting a point of frustration. The days are hot, really hot. With the temperature rising to the mid-high 80’s indoors, there is no relief from the heat in our home. We’ve been escaping to cooler places— our shady zoo, the windy beach, and Marlowe’s favorite: the breezy and shaded trolley rides. The yard’s been at a stand still. Piles and piles of branches that I just don’t have the strength for, sitting and waiting— but for what, I don’t know. I came home one evening from a night out with M, to find my dad, hauling the last pile of branches (of the week) from the back of my scattered yard, to my curb. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but unable, by myself— with Marlowe. She’s a good and easy kid, but the front yard is not something that’s open to her, unless she has my complete attention– and alone, I can’t do both: clean the yard and keep two eyes on her. So the green piles sat, and sat some more, until they wilted brown and dry, slowly becoming the earth once again. I’m thankful for dad’s help. My friend Laura and I joke, that we’ve never, in our whole lives, seen our dads as much as we do now… now that we own houses. That’s what dads do right? Some anyway. They’re there to help they’re daughters out. I appreciate it and I need it, because now, even as an adult, I’m annoyed that I’m not tall enough, big enough, or strong enough, to do everything I want to do, on my own. I’m frustrated. I want to grow. Marlowe asks me everyday, “Mama, are you making a garden?” and I let out a big huff of air, “I’m working on it. I’m trying.” I’m trying. I’m lost on how to get any more done. I’m confused on what the next step is, to do anything. Do I keep trimming back? Do I keep pulling roots out? Can I even pull anymore? The last tree that I pulled, was the length of my car— it took up half my yard work time for the day. I’m annoyed that I don’t know more. The patience part— I’m surprisingly fine with it— here, in this world of gardening. I know this is a process and it will take time, but the part that gets me, is that feeling that I’m wasting time not knowing what I’m doing. I hate wasted time. Am I going in circles? I’ll leave my frustration here.

Even though it feels like accomplishments are slowing down, I know there are still benefits here— really, it’s been only benefits. We’re not losing anything here. And I know we’re still growing. I’ll re-organize, strategize, and find a way to somehow make myself that promised garden. My limbs won’t grow in length, but they will get bigger— because I am growing stronger. I can feel it in my arms. And Marlowe is growing out here too. She’s finding ways to entertain her mind in this dirty space of ours. She no longer constantly cries of dirt, demanding to change her earthed clothes. Now, you can find her picking dead flowers from piles, and sticking them in the earth to grow. She’s planting her garden, before we plant ours. Each afternoon, she enters back into our home with dirt stained cheeks, grass filled hair, and without fail, asks me again, “Mama, are you making a garden?” 
I’m trying, kid.  


  1. I wanted to jump in with the rasied bed suggestion, too.

    Cedar and pine are naturally moisture-resistant so you don't have to worry about chemically treated boards. A couple 8' x 12" boards cut at the store into 4' chunks and nailed or screwed together is easy peasy. Then you can just dump some dirt and compost into the frame and viola!

    A great way to skip the root pulling. If you can't remove it, just cover it, right?

    xx A

  2. i gotta tell you drea, i'm so impressed with your handwork! i know how much work it can be. i tackled the yard in our first home, solo because of jon's work hours, and it is such intense labor. i remember coming in at the end of the day with cuts, scrapes, bruises and a worn soul. but there are no words when you begin to see the growth. when you see the results. you're amazing mama!

    you can certainly do raised beds, but i would be careful of the wood you pick. personally, i wouldn't use treated wood. also keep in mind the wood will be a maintenance item down the road. eventually it can be become moldy and can rot and will need replaced. you can also use rocks, bricks or stones. i wanted a raised garden because they look so nice, but we opted out. eventually we'll add a nice rock border and some large stepping stones as a path down the middle.

    you may want to test your soil so you know what you're working with, will you need to add peat moss and compost? i know it's gross, but we've added alpaca manure and it's a great fertilizer. do you have a compost? definitely compost. doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a pile with maybe a border around it to contain it. i think you can pick up plastic bins for like $10. compost is great for the garden and flowers.

    ok, sorry to ramble on! we just started our garden so i've got garden on the brain 😉

  3. "Im not really a career person. I'm a gardener, basically." ~ George Harrison

    I love that, and this post. Keep on keepin' on.

  4. the best/quickest way to start growing what you want is raised beds especially if you are dealing with not so great soil or ground that has a lot of rocks or roots. simply figure out your dimensions and use 1×6's or even 1×12's depending how deep you want it. cypress is ideal but treated wood works fine and no longer contains arsenic. screw your boards to corner posts, line the bottom with cardboard (cheaper than landscape fabric) and then add your topsoil and dirt. the cardboard will break down eventually and it kills off the grass and weeds which makes the maintenance so much easier. I'm doing this soon in my yard because it has so many huge roots, hopefully if i get around to it ill post pics on my blog but im sure you can find some great resources online. most importantly have fun, the best part of gardening is how theraputic it is. you already have a great start with that brick walk way and shady little sitting area! good luck!

  5. The heat you have sounds brutal! We are only JUST getting spring weather here in Ontario, and it's still on the cooler side. I totally understand the frustration of not feeling like you can do everything yourself. But it looks like you are getting quite a bit accomplished! And you are making wonderful memories for your daughter- my mother loves to garden and I remember being out there with her helping, she let me plant my own garden along side of her. It may take time, but soon you will accomplish your goal:)

  6. You'll get there, lady. It's a work in progress. A side note: Lola saw Marlowe and said, "Dat my baby, Mama!". It's funny because Marlowe's a bit older than her, I think (Lola was born in Nov 2010), but still funny nonetheless. Isn't this age just the best with all the wonder and exploring? You and Marlowe are making some great memories out there in that backyard of yours!

  7. Totally time for a window unit or some good window fans. Must. Have. Relief. It gets HOT here in Georgia and I know Florida is HOTTER even though sometimes I wonder how that is even possible!

    As for your garden, it's looking wonderful. It looks like you have enough purged to maybe start a little garden here or there. I find small goals help me accomplish the larger goals when it comes to the yard. You can't always focus on the whole thing; sometimes, if you just pick a plot and transform that, you can get a glimpse of the final, bigger picture and refresh your motivation. Plus, I'm sure M would adore helping you plant something or scatter pebbles or whatever your plans may be. 🙂

  8. Agreed with Katy or even window fans! They make a huge difference when you've got nothing and come pretty cheap.

  9. Ah yes, making a garden is wonderful and hard and dirty and beautiful, all at the same time…And it is so very worth the effort. Marlowe will help because she obviously has a love for the earth and the two of you will continue to grow together, one step at a time.

  10. I just love a dirty kid who smells of the outdoors and is strengthen by sunshine. I was just reading about the importance of not so perfect outdoor spaces for kids and all the benefits, so even though your yard might not be where you want it to be right now, it's the perfect place for that little lady of yours.

  11. Keep pulling, keep weeding, keep cutting, keep digging. Gardening is a constant project of pruning and cleaning and getting rid of the excessive: just like life. But you can do it, you are getting stronger every day.

  12. I know what hard work gardening is, but it will all be worth it in the end. Just visualise the cool, green, shady oasis you are creating. And you will get there little by little. I find myself panicking about the amount to be done to even get control, but all I can do is a bit at a time and that has to be enough. Every time I go out there, I tell myself I am a step closer to the end result.

  13. Drea, You MUST buy yourself a window unit AC so at least you have relief from the heat in one room. We had to put one upstairs where the heat just collected and it's made a world of difference. You deserve a respite after all of your hard work!

    I loved your post and can appreciate all of the life lessons you're giving Marlowe out in your back yard. She is lucky to have such a strong mama (and helpful grandpa)!

    • Yes! And don't be afraid to hang some inventive curtains to separate a space out if you really want to a/c a living area. We are in the Bay Area and it's 95 here today… I have my 100+ for 3 days or more rule, then you bettah believe that the window a/c in the kids' room and the portable is out so we have someplace to be. My house is mainly open aside from the bedrooms, so I hang sheers between the living room and the rest for those days.

  14. Aaawww that's a cute and honest question. She's such a great helper/gardener. 🙂