15 September 2010
It Took Me 2 Days to Plant a Damn Coneflower
When you drive down the winding country roads here, you admire the natural outcroppings of rock in people's yards; so New England, so ancient and bucolic. And then you find - oh joy! - you also have these amazing rocks in your new yard. No one hauled them here. And you didn't have to pay for them like you did at your little house on the prairie. They were here first and placed themselves according to some organic plan created by the universe. Life imitating art.
And when I see my own giant rock collection, my pet rocks, my mind immediately starts making plans: I need something tall and wispy right there, maybe some meadow rue..........and a whole mess of coneflower randomly scattered over there - pink and white and yellow................and those day lilies have to go, they have no right to be here so pedestrian are they.............and I can move the dianthus by that rock and maybe add some cranesbill alongside it............and groundcovers! A patchwork of creeping jenny and scotch moss and chocolate chip ajuga WHERE ARE MY KEYS????!!!!!
And I return from the plant nursery with a carload of impulse purchases. Which is NOT something I feel guilty about anymore. I used to judge my gardening habits with a rational mind but a rational mind has no place in the garden. This is a creative outlet and it would be WRONG - no, IRRESPONSIBLE - to stifle the juices that fight to be expressed. That's the kind of thing that can make you sick! Would you chastise someone for buying too much paint? As in "Not another masterpiece! Didn't we just buy paint last week? Hey, we're in a recession here.........maybe you could make the sky a little less blue."
Ok - rationalization over.
Before I can put my impulse purchases in the ground, I have to do some serious removal of invasive species. In Minnesota, I used to "pull" weeds. With my hands. And even the stubborn ones would eventually surrender their home in the soft Midwestern soil. I find out quickly that we don't "pull" weeds in New Hampshire.........we DIG them. With a big ass shovel. Because the pretty rocks that I admire on my drives don't just sit atop the landscape. The landscape actually sits atop the pretty rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Forever! Dammit!
I jam the point of my shovel in the ground and stand on it and jump up and down. And then I get down and I heave and I ho and I jam it in again and again and again and jump up and down again and again and again. And this time, when I heave and ho attempting to dislodge the roots from the rocks, I seethe through clenched teeth "COME ON YOU DOUCHEBAG!!! " I look like a frickin' gladiator.
And now I can't stop.......this is war, baby. I now have an enemy and I can't let up for a second or the weeds will win! I'm like Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann, digging and digging and digging. And finally, after what seems like the 30 Days War, I have a space big enough to plant one GD coneflower.
But I can't quit now. I need to get at least one thing in the ground or Operation Who the Hell Put Rocks in My Garden will be a total failure. So I start digging my hole - just one hole - and my shovel hits a rock every FREAKIN' time! I dig rocks and dig rocks and dig rocks and make my hole one centimeter at a time. Mike comes outside and says "Why don't you come inside?"
"You can quit. *I don't want you to overdo it." *remember, I'm trying to heal a broken foot.
"NO! How about a wow you sure have been working hard or a way to go sister or a this yard sure is going to look great? Way to boost my self-esteem, Mike!"
He knows better than to try to dig himself out of that hole. So he goes back inside and this time he brings me a Corona garnished with a slice of lime. He's no dummy. So I take a cleansing breath and convince myself that some of the rocks will dissolve overnight so I really should call it a day.
I sit on the deck enjoying my beer and I assess my work. My backbreaking work. And I fantasize about digging a hole in my yard in Minnesota. There's Enya music playing in the background and I have lipstick on and really cute, colorful gardening shoes and every time I point my shovel into the ground it slides right in. And then, a gentle push with my foot sends it deeper - as deep as I want! Then I heave (there's no need to ho) and lift! Voila! Lather, rinse, repeat! And do you know what happens when I keep digging?
THE HOLE GETS DEEPER!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! (deep breath) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
The next day, paralyzed with soreness, I return to my hole with fresh armpits and a fresh attitude. I look at its measely depth and I think "It's ok. Only a little more. It's really only half a task. Maybe it can stick out of the ground a little." And I did it. Two days worth of work. One beautiful pink coneflower. Planted.
One down, eight to go.
The next morning, as Liam and I eat breakfast, we spy a deer making her way to our yard. We stand still and peer through the window to see what she will do. She twitches her ears and hesitantly, step by careful step, makes her way over the rocks and into my garden.
I catch my breath. OH NO YOU DI-IN'T!!!
She pokes her nose at my coneflower a couple of times..........and takes a bite.
I throw the door open with such force that Liam jumps. And I yell "YOU'RE DEAD, BAMBI!"
..........yeah, you better run.