Category Archives: The Reluctant Gardener

THE JET STREAM

Oh the follies of being a reluctant gardener and landscape maintenance technician. After we had been in our home for a couple of years–you know, settled in but still haven’t mastered the lay of the land–I went out and bought a new hose attachment. It seemed as though each summer we needed to replace one; thus, this go ‘round, I spent a little more time searching for just the right kind. I especially needed something heavy duty enough to withstand the playful abuse from children. I was sure I had found it.

As soon as I returned home, I immediately opened, attached it and began to play around with the various settings. One notch was for a fine mist that seemed more fun than useful. Another seemed quite useful for watering down the flowerbeds–it sprayed more like a showerhead. Then, I found the jet stream. Very Interesting.

Since our brick-colored paver patio was in desperate need of a clean, I thought this particular setting would be a great tool to power wash it. The stream was nowhere near as powerful as one of those actual power washer thingamabobs, but it probably could have stripped some of the paint off the shake siding. Feeling clever, I pointed the nozzle at the pavers and blasted away.

Now imagine Tom Hanks in Castaway when he created fire. This was me, beaming with pride as I hosed down the patio. Dirt blew out of every pore and crevice. I was doing a happy dance! “Dirt! I have power cleaned dirt from patio! Ahahahaha!” I had found a new tool and a new toy that made a job fun and easy–so I thought.

Can you see where this is going yet? Have you anticipated the havoc I wreaked upon my future self? Now, fast forward about two weeks. It was a perfect late-summer evening–not too hot and not too humid, with just a subtle breeze. While my husband was grilling brats, I relaxed at the patio table and sipped my wine. When the brats were finished he brought them over to the table, but dropped one on the way. He picked it up and set it aside. Within seconds an army of ants burst out from between our pavers to pluck up the greasy remnants. They popped out of there so quickly and with such a force it reminded me of the scarabs from The Mummy. All I could do was stare.

We had been grilling in that same spot since we moved in and food had been dropped, especially with young children around, a number of times with no issue. I had never seen such a sight, but didn’t think much of it at the time. I was fascinated, but still clueless. A couple of weeks later I noticed a few weeds beginning to creep up between some of the pavers. I quickly pulled them, naively thinking that would be the end of it.

Another few weeks went by when I noticed the army of ants had multiplied three-fold. Tall mounds of sand seemed to have formed overnight and more weeds popped through. What the hell?!? We were being taken over. I couldn’t believe that the grease from one fricken brat could have caused such a problem. And then…then, I remembered. THE JET STEAM!

It wasn’t dirt I had been blasting away. It was the paver sand used to seal the joints! Yes ladies and gentlemen, in my jet stream creating moment of premature pride, I had thoroughly removed the very sealer that was used to lock the blocks in place, seal the joints and block out the ants and the weeds. I’ll take my dramatic bow of shame now.

Sleep tight for me. I’m gone!


WAVING THE WHITE FLAG

Frustrated GardenerThe ever-mounting yard work haunts me. It’s low maintenance, they said. Yeah, right! What they didn’t tell me, and I failed to realize in my first-time-homebuyer naivety, was that I would be fighting a battle against weeds every spring, summer and fall for the next TEN YEARS. And, sometimes, those damn weeds look as pretty as a flower! It’s very hard to tell with my untrained eyes.

I started out strong, I really did. I quite literally dug in. I may have won a few battles over the years, but, unfortunately, the weeds are beginning to win the war. I suppose it doesn’t help that we live very, very close to a nature preserve/center. At least this is what I tell myself to justify my inability to gain advancement in any siege.

It is as if nature is laughing at me. Taunting me. Once I have made a clearing and have begun to make another, sprays of thistly, noxious, itch-inducing evil cascade across the soil, having multiplied three-fold! It’s almost like playing whack-a-mole.

Sleep tight for me, I’m gone.

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DEMON WEED TREE

I want to make apruning confession–I am NOT a green thumb. Never have been. I cannot grow anything to save my life, try as I may. The unfortunate thing about this fact is that the home my husband and I bought several years ago has a lot of beautiful landscaping we struggle to maintain due to my unskilled gardening tactics and lack of know-how. It has certainly been a learning experience. The proverbial trial-by-fire. The type of maintenance our yard requires is a torturous endeavor, especially considering I don’t find this sort of labor enjoyable–not in the least.

Anyway, a number of years ago, I noticed a bunch of weird looking plants had begun to appear in the strangest of places. They were low-lying to the ground at first, but then began to take the shape of what I thought looked like a young tree–eventually sprouting little berries. Because we were still pretty new to the home then, and I naive in the ways of nature’s plants, I wasn’t sure if it was something the previous owners had planted and were supposed to be there or if it was a weed of some sort. I waited and watched, until one day I decided that I just didn’t like them. They were kind of menacing and seemed to take over everything! I began to pull them, making sure to be very careful with those auspicious-looking berries.

After the hard-fought excavation, I had not seen the “tree plant” (as we called it then) for quite some time. A few years later it popped up again. I wondered if, perhaps, it was a type of plant that only grows every couple of years. And then, I opened our city’s Newsletter.

Apparently, our troublesome plant has a name and it’s called Buckthorn. Okay, I’ll wait until the laughter has subsided. Yes, I had been growing Buckthorn and never knew it. And now it seems to be everywhere! Sigh. It is a never-ending battle. According to the Newsletter, the berries can essentially lay dormant, but remain viable, in the soil for approximately…can you guess? Six years!

I may have won the first battle, but the war is still not over.

Buckthorn 9-24-13