Sunday Opinion: Effort

I have been on the business end of a hose recently for what seems like a lifetime.  A lifetime?  Not really.  The extremely hot weather Mother Nature has thrown my way simply means I have had to make an effort.  Certainly an extra effort.  Anyone who gardens knows that preparing soil for new roses requires great effort.  Cooking compost requires great effort.  Planting a hedge of yews, or a rose garden, takes effort.  Any garden, on the best day of its year, that looks effortless, but is anything but.  Making the effort is what makes a charming garden stellar.  A thoughtful landscape remarkable.  A simple gesture, fueled with great effort, can be extraordinary. 

 Anyone who gardens knows that the work of a garden is never done.  That work can consume every ounce of effort you have available, and then some.  Once you catch your breath, some other surely labor intensive project beckons.  All that is required is your committment.  Committment is a fancy word for effort-I will translate.  Significant effort is what makes for a great garden.  The best effort?  The best garden.  Effort that makes your hands and back hurt-I am sure you are familiar with it.   Anyone driven to plant a perennial border of note, or a landscape that enchants, has already come to terms with, and signed up for, considerable effort.   That activity driven by effort makes you sweat all over.

  I would call landscape and garden design the anticipation of a great effort.

The impulse to devote great effort implies, and results in the the laying out of the beds, the edging, the planting of the beds, the watering, the maintenance.  For established gardens in my zone, effort this minute is all about supplying adequate water.  Every week, every day, there is something in my garden that asks for my effort.

Effort fuels the impulse to move things around. The energy to make changes. Once I commit my effort, I sort out and think through all of the options.  No idea can stand on the strength of a thought.  A great idea is no idea, unless there is a mechanism for expression. 

All of my efforts, given this extraordinary heat, are directed towards keeping everything alive.  I am watering the roses, the trees, the containers-suffice it to say that I am watering.  On any given day, the best of my efforts may be directed in response to a specific challenge.  On other and more quiet days, my effort might make for a design that might mean something.

My advice?  Make the effort.  You will be amazed, at the end of a gardening day, how good that effort feels.  



  1. The water bills aside, we find gardening an absolute must. I think what hooks us every time is walking outside and smelling the wonderful scents swirling past, much less the beauty of the blooms!

  2. erin bailey says

    Your words are just the encouragement I need right now. I have a new, larger lot and my ideal plan for it on paper. But first ridding my garden of Black Walnut Trees and their poisoning roots has taken all my time and effort. (and a great deal of my husband’s) Pulling weeds and stockpiling compost and double digging the compacted soil for a nursery bed to hold the stock I will need to propagate for a deer-barring hedge surrounding my half acre— I am so far from the envisioned goal, years before it will be planted and more years before the trees and shrubs mature enough to allow others to see what is in my head– all I have now is my dream and EFFORT! Thanks!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Erin, your effort-bravo! The journey and the work is eminently worthwhile. When things start to take shape, the satisfaction is hard to beat. What are you propogating that will deer proof your property?? Deborah

  3. erin bailey says

    Hi Deborah, I am growing red barberry, columnar arborvitae, and Washington hawthorn. The 4 ft berberis clipped dense in front of the taller arborvitae as a 8 ft wide boundary hedge in the center garden, the hawthorn for a clipped 10×5 ft hedge in back. I am growing herbs and xeric ground covers for the front entry garden that the deer should pretty much leave alone, and enclosing a small garden inside berberis on the side front to keep the front exposure from looking too fortified/berlin wall like. Hope it works and thanks for asking.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Erin, I have heard of farmers planting rosa multiflora to keep deer out-but that can run so wild it might bury your property. Have you looked into Benner’s deer fencing? I fenced 8 acres with it once-no more deer. Good luck to you! Deborah

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