Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Impulse Gardening

Friday I was sipping my coffee and absentmindedly making frowny faces out the window at some branches on our giant blue spruce that had been annoying me all winter. By Sunday, those fourteen seconds of tree-induced irritation had led to Daddy Shortbread and I ripping up an entire hillside.

I'm a pretty random gardener. I know what I like, and it can pretty much be summed up as MORE. If I learned anything in fifteen years of living in Arizona, it's that trees and flowers are as vital to me as oxygen. Or chocolate. I try to keep all four on hand.

I don't draw up plans. I cast my eyes around, see a blank spot and think, You know what would look great there? Flowers. Then I start digging. Then I go to the garden center. Repeat as necessary.
So, anyway, Friday. I finished my coffee, went outside and grabbed the branch-sawer-off- extension-pole-thingy which probably has an actual name. I laboriously sawed off about eight of the mostly dead branches that had been bugging me.

A wheezy sweaty mess, I called Daddy Shortbread and pitched the idea of a chainsaw for Mother's Day. He said that he didn't want a wife called "Stumpy" and what the heck was I up to?

"Me? Nothing. Just a purely hypothetical question, " I told him. He gets cranky when I do things that might throw my hair-trigger back out. I went back out and sawed my way through the rest. Then I sent him an email.

To: Daddy Shortbread
From: Jenn
Subject: FYI

There might possibly be a big pile of spruce tree branches on the side of the house. Coincidentally, they happen to be the same ones
that have been pissing me off lately! I have no idea how they got there.

JennHe was a very good sport about dragging them off to the brush pile on Saturday. I was puttering around the yard while he dragged, when my gaze fell upon the Hillside of Neglect. Sloping down from the side of our house, it's really the last wild area of our immediate yard. It's an ungodly tangle of bramble, goldenrod, weedy grasses, and a rambler rose with boundary issues. By midsummer I cringe every time I roll past on the riding mower. Since it's mostly out of sight from the windows, though, and in an area of yard that we don't use much, I tend to forget about it until the next time I mow. Then I roll by and think we have GOT to do something about that. Then I forget about it.

"Hey, hon?" I called tentatively, "What do you say we clear this hill? I could transplant a bunch of stuff over from some of the other flowerbeds." I didn't really expect an answer, unless you count eye-rolling or dirty looks.

"OK," he said.

Score! I was off to get out the shovels before he had a chance to change his mind.
It took two days of digging, tearing out roots, and hauling away sod in a wheelbarrow, but by Sunday night we were done. The hillside was a beautiful blank canvas of dirt. We spread compost, took double doses of Ibuprofen, and called it a day. For once, we were dirtier than the kids, who had kept relatively clean playing with water balloons.

Yesterday, I transplanted lupines, bee balm, echinacea, catmint, and black-eyed Susans all over the hill. I tossed out some cleome and cosmos seeds for good measure. For now, it's pretty underwhelming. It still looks like a hill of dirt with a few teeny green growing things sprinkled about on it. In a couple of years, though, I hope to have a lucsious hillside meadow bursting with bloom.

Now...what to dig up next?


Anonymous said...

I too suffer from impulse gardening.

It has been too wet here to do anything, but as soon as the sun decides to shine - I'm all over it!

Jen on the Edge said...

Please, please, pretty PLEASE post photos!!!

jenn said...

Once things get to growing, I'll definitely post pics. Right now most of the transplants are about two inches tall. From three feet back, you can barely see them! :)

Anonymous said...

Go for that chainsaw! We have a small Black and Decker electric chain saw, and it's one of my favorite tools. Easy to start - no pull cord - and it cuts down branches happily.
Makes my husband NUTS when I use it.

Country Girl said...

Just getting caught back up on your blog tonight. Lovely photos of your flowers. Thanks God the old lady that lived on this farm planted some because we'd be outta luck. If we can't eat it I generally do not grow it. Sad isn't it. I'm getting that way with animals too. As Leah was holding one of our meat rabbitis the other day she said "can I get a pet bunny?". I had to laugh.
I can't believe you fell for that "Swine Flu" crap. Thousands die of regular influenza. It's that damn media that hypes shit up! Can you tell I'm a jaded nurse?
I would love to take the kids to the plantation, it that in Mass? The phot of your daughter taking a picture with her camera is pricelss and that is a great pic of you and your husband!!!

P.S John taught me how to use the chainsaw last year. I have stories about using it unsupervised...scary. I think he hides it now.

grandma said...

Impulse gardening brings up memories of when I was a stay at home Mom and Daddy Shortbread being the age of Bear and Bug. I would get the impulse to change or move my flower beds. Living in the mountains these projects always entailed moving boulders. A lot of work, but we had fun as long as Daddy Shortbread could create a lake in the garden amongst the boulders:-) Thanks for the memories :-)

Anonymous said...

I tagged you in my post today.
Come on over and check it out!

DaddyS said...

I could do a whole blog post on the stupendous brutality of the labor involved in removing even small tree stumps, and there were four on that hillside. But that friggin' hill has been bugging me for years, too. I'm glad it's done.