Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Tragic Saga of My Garden

So, about ten years ago we moved into this house with a huge garden space. It hadn't been kept up--the woman we bought the house from was no gardener. But the woman who owned the house before her was an avid gardener and you could see the potential: huge flowerbeds, big space for vegetables: in short all the things a gardener could want.

At that time, I fanicied myself a gardener. It kind of runs in the family. My mother spent all her summers gardening and my sister does and my grandmothers both did...you know how it goes. Plus, we were friends with an avid gardener who thrilled us with lush descriptions of Ratatouille made with vegetabloes fresh from the garden: plump ripe tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, peppers, eggplants, potatoes--the whole lot. Well, if I'm not a gardener I DO like to eat and I couldn;t resist. The result? I became, perforce, a gardener.

The vegetable part was relatively easy at first. The neighbour had been growing tomatoes and a few other things, so the space was all ready for a fresh crop. And boy did we enjoy those first few crops. It came down to saying things like, "Do you think we could put in a patch of wheat and mill it for our bread?" You know, crazy stuff like that. Of course, we didn;t think it was crazy at the time. We were gardeners.

The flowerbed was something else again. It was severely overgrown and I spent a year just looking at it trying to figure out what to do. Then I spent another year digging. And digging. And digging. I dug up weeds. I separated day lilies that hadn't been separated for ten years. I put in bulbs and removed others. And the next spring I was rewarded with something that looked very much like a flowerbed.

I felt good about it. I kept it up for about two years, always thinking of the five-year plan, at the end of which I would have a glorious garden that pretty much did its own work, with maybe a guiding hand or two every so often.

Then I got sick. I was sick for a couple years. And the flowerbed went to hell, as did the vegetable patch. And I realised in that time that I don;t really like gardening. I know this because there's a real gardener across the stret from us and she's out there in all weathers, pruning, planting, deadheading, and basically keeping the whole thing running. She's out there in 100-degree heat and in freezing cold, So much for my concept of a guiding hand or two. She made me realise tat gardening is really a full time job--one I don't want.

Now I should have realised this early on. Like the first july, when the bindweed came up and I spent about two hours pulling it before getting that I had better things to do than bend over a patch of stubborn weeds coaxing them out of their nice home in the blazing heat. And so, for the months of July and August, I tended to let the whole thing go to the proverbial pot. Which, of course, made my job all the harder the next year.

In any case, it took getting sick for me to get that I don;t like gardening much. And now, after three years, I'm right back where I started except worse, because the vegetable patch is also so overgrown that I can't even find it. Of the flowerbed, it's better not even to speak. I think a lot of things have died. Unfortunately, none of those things are weeds. Why is it that the weeds can stay alive even when you've given up on the whole business, even to the point of stopping watering?

Now I fantasize about having a landscaper come in and take care of the mess for me. 'Cause it's sure that I'm never going to do it. I feel guilty every time I look out the window and see the lone rosebush struggling to put out blossoms amid the waving orchard grass. I can't see another well-kept garden without feeling sick at my stomach. I'm even contemplating taking out a second mortgage on my house to pay someone to deal with it. My father would be rolling in his grave. If he had one.

Someone please come and rescue me from this situation! Some gardener without a place to garden maybe.

Or maybe I'll just let nature take its course. The sunflowers don't look too bad, really. It's the ragweed that gets me every time...

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