The big jobs are done -- mostly -- and now I'm puttering around with the small stuff. Casual observers look around my garden in mid-June and are sure there isn't space left for so much as a bacterium. Hah! Real gardeners know there is always room for one more plant. And then one more.

In a stroke of serendipity, I start thinking about filling small spaces at around the same time nurseries are looking to unload their unsold flats of annuals. I never know what I'm going to run across, usually not what I would choose if I had a larger choice. But at three or four bucks a flat, anything looks better than a few inches of bare ground.

This year it was a mixed flat of impatiens. Generally I'm against mixes, but that's when I'm paying full price. And anyway, these won't be planted all together.

Admittedly, late season flats are not in prime condition after a few weeks of bad light and inept care, and many have lingered too long in their six packs. No problem. Loosen the roots, give them a little 15-30-15 liquid fertilizer, and they'll snap right back. Most of them.

So I go out with a trowel, a watering can, and the first six pack. A couple go in to cover the bare shins of a rose bush. Several are planted along paths where perennials haven't grown to the edge. Newly planted perennials have been given room to expand, and the yet unused surrounding soil is planted with left-over annuals. A couple go under a garden bench. A corner here, a bare spot there.

A few of the seedlings get transplanted into those black nursery pots. Later in the season, as spaces inevitably open up, I'll have full sized plants to stick in. Meanwhile they make an instant garden anywhere I want it.

I like to put some flowers in my vegetable garden, at the corners of the raised beds, but it is full sun and no place impatiens. A cheap packet of nasturtium seed does the trick. Just stick a seed in the ground. Other seeds will work, but nasturtiums are fast and easy, and they'll gracefully drape over the edge of a raised bed. In just a few weeks I can use the flowers in salads.

The smallest and easiest plants, the little sedums and hens and chicks, are stuck in everyplace. I never understood people who have one patch of hens and chicks, one place, and no place else. It is just so easy to break off a small piece and stick the stem under a rock or a piece of edging or in a wall. That's all, zero maintenance.

Left-over flowers are not the only small things in my garden. I also have an impressive collection of objets d'art, if you can use such a highfalutin term for things from clearance tables and dollar stores. No gnomes, not yet, but only because I haven't found any marked down enough.

I have a couple of prominently placed large pieces of garden art, or what passes for art in my redneck mind, but the small ones are the most fun. It is an eclectic bunch of kitsch with only one rule. No moving parts.

Two rules, actually. I don't like garden ornaments in your face. They should be tucked away. Some of mine should be tucked further away than others.

There are exceptions. A sun dial needs to be pretty much out in the open. They don't work very well hidden in the shrubbery.

Others find their place and proper plant companions. Kokopelli stands looking into the lily puddle, Buddha sits under a Black Lace shrub (I don't have a Bo tree), the Dancing Faun stretches up with Japanese iris, a pair of hedgehogs poke their noses out from under a peony, bunnies abound. They are things you happen upon, not spot from yards away.

Eventually I can call my garden complete for the season, right about the time I start taking it apart.

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