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Gardening with ADD
Carol E. Watkins, M.D.


Many of us avoid gardening. Too many times, we plant the most beautiful rose bushes, only to have them get blight and die when we forget about them for a month or so. Our neat geometric garden designs get holes when a few of the flowers in the pattern die. Our neighbors start to make comments.....

Done right, gardening can be an ideal hobby for women with ADHD. After a long day's work, it feels great to get outside with a mattock and dig up dirt. It's a good adult excuse for getting muddy. If you are the type who impulsively blows up at people, fresh flowers make a great apology gift. Bringing fresh, blooming flowers to the office, and arranging them, can provide a centering experience at the beginning of each day.

Darwinian Gardening: Like everything else, gardening works best if you know yourself. If you are aware that you tend to be disorganized and inattentive, plan a garden that can accommodate this. Choose flowers that can survive a little abuse and neglect. If a flower can't live where you planted it, it didn't belong in your garden anyway.

Get to know a couple of the gardening experts at your local plant nursery. You may be surprised to find that some of the most beautiful and unusual plants are the hardiest. For example, bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectablis) make a unique border. Brightly colored German bearded irises (Iris germanica) are a hardy and fast-spreading flower. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) makes for a great ground cover and blooms with daisy-like flowers that can also be made into tea. See end of article for more easy-to-grow plants.

Tips for the Inattentive Gardener

  • Avoid geometric designs and topiaries. Any mistake, weed or dying plant will show up. 
  • Use an electric drill with an auger attachment to drill bulb holes. You can do hundreds in a couple of hours.
  • Naturalize. Plant crocuses randomly in your lawn, and daffodils at the edge of your yard. They will return year after year with little extra work. 
  • Plant things that are native to your area. Nature intended them to be there, and nature will help you keep them alive. Now your garden is full of "native plants" not weeds.
  • Consider irises, daylilies and hellebores. Some forms of irises and daylilies will repeatedly bloom throughout the season.  These plants can often tolerate extended neglect.
  • Plant flowers more randomly instead of grouping them. Yes, this violates standard gardening principles. However, if you do this, and put your plants close together, no one can tell if a few weeds are present.
  • Some weeds have nice flowers too.
  • Planting from seed can be tricky. It is easy to forget what you have planted. Sunflowers are an exception. They are large, dramatic and easy to grow. They are great to plant over things that have died or have just finished blooming for the season. 
  • Make the garden a family task. If you have the type of garden that requires less weeding and fussing, the kids are more likely to be enthusiastic. 
  • If the kids are to help, avoid some of the more toxic sprays and herbicides. Using corn gluten on your garden as a pre-emergent weed killer may avoid the use of more toxic sprays. Horticultural/castor oil can help control moles and several varieties of insects. Pepper Wax, capsaicin, found in hot peppers, repels insects.
  • Consider the use of landscape fabric and mulch when you plant your garden this will cut down on the need for weeding.
  • Spraying plants with Miracle Grow, diluted with water, can bring many plants back from the brink of death.
  • Benches and all-weather sculptures can beautify your garden and they will not ever die.
  • Use your periodic bursts of energy to do the regular maintenance tasks such as fertilizing and mulching. These tasks don't always have to be done when everybody else does them. 



More easy-to-grow plants

Consider the following plants for your garden: Perennial lilies (including daylilies (Hemerocallis) toad lilies (Tricyrris hirta) and Asian lilies. Lilies are beautiful, sometimes reblooming and require little maintenance. Hostas are a great way to fill in shady borders quickly with large, vibrantly green foliage. Musk Mallow, also called hardy hibiscus, have large, dramatic flowers in a variety of colors from blue to white to fiery red. Peonies produce large, dramatic flowers in the spring. They grow quickly and the roots can be easily divided so that you have multiple plants. Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is a rapidly growing, low maintenance ground cover for shady areas.

Revised December 2004

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Northern County Psychiatric Associates
Offices in Monkton and Lutherville, Maryland

Northern County Psychiatric Associates 

Our practice has experience in the treatment of Attention Deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), Depression, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and other psychiatric conditions. We are located in Northern Baltimore County and serve the Baltimore County, Carroll County and Harford County areas in Maryland. Since we are near the Pennsylvania border, we also serve the York County area.   Our services include psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and family therapy. We treat children, adults, and the elderly.

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Northern County Psychiatric Associates
Lutherville and Monkton
Baltimore County, Maryland
Phone: 410-329-2028
Web Site
Copyright 2004

Carol E. Watkins, M.D.
Glenn Brynes, Ph.D., M.D.








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