Yard, We Will Conquer Thee!

I’ve mentioned before (do you remember that post? Just in case you forgot, oh dear and loyal reader, click here) that David and I are attempting to throw a landscaping coup: get rid of the old leader, Dictator Daylily McWeedsalot, and establish a new, kindler, gentler establishment for the asesthetic betterment of our family. As I may have also previously implied, this endeavor is sort of like deciding to go hot air-ballooning only to realize once you’re already up in the air that a) you’re terrified of heights, b) if you fall, there’s nothing but a desert full of hard sand and prickly cactus waiting to ruin your fun, and c) it’s a much better idea if somebody else captains the large pocket of hot air that keeps you alive and just allows you to enjoy the view.  Which is how it went for us when we did go ballooning many moons ago, but that’s not we’re talking about today. No, today we’re giddy about…

…gardening! If the past few weeks are any indication, it looks like our summer’s going to consist of weekends that involve David removing large, sharp-branched, insect-infested shrubbery from their various, random dwellings around the yard. It’s going to involve me digging up sod, planting flowers, mulching until my skin becomes so stained from the dye in the wood that I may never fully resemble my pale, freckled self again. And after I spend all day doing this work on, say, one patch of yard, most likely I’ll be beaming with pride until I step back to look at my handiwork and exclaim, [Insert favorite curse word here]! That’s it? All that work and all I have to show for it is a measly little round of mulch and some crappy petunias?! [Insert another curse word, or as many as you like, for good measure]!).

Doing this kind of work is like organizing a closet: in the midst of it, you think you’re really getting stuff accomplished, feeling good about yourself, until you step out of your little organized piles only to look back and realize that you were really just sitting in the middle of a giant junk heap all day. It’s kind of like that. We have miles to travel on this little third of an acre we call home, people. We have shrubs to plant, flower beds to dig, mulch to buy and spread, a porch to redo, trees to buy, a deck/patio/baneofmyexistence that needs to be ripped out and rebuilt…Whew. It’s a lot. And friends, the next time I say that I don’t want our next home to be a new house, I want one with character, etc., etc., remind me of this post. Remind me that most new houses already have the landscaping–all those nice, tidy plants!–finished. Remind me of the ginormous pregnant spider I encountered in the compost heap and the rotting bird I accidentally shoveled onto my foot and the realization that I absolutely do not have the stomach for anything that squrims, wiggles or lives underground. Please. Save me and my dear husband from squabbling like silly fools over the shape of a flower bed in the backyard for the sheer entertainment of our nosy neighbors. Save us from poison ivy. And save our bank account, though our good friends at Lowe’s might argue with you on that point.

Ah, well. You can tell that we’re at that inevitable spot in our project: that time where the happy wave we’re riding–the one where we’re feeling like we can imagine the finished project, and we’re making good headway into this particular storm–has already crested and is starting to break onto the rocks–those jagged rocks of frustration on which we get pummelled and dragged back into the surf, only to be spit out again in the exact place where we started. It’s okay. They’ll be another wave coming along, soon, for sure–probably by, say, next Saturday morning. In the meantime, I’m trying to see the positive in  all these man (sorry, person) hours outside:

  • The sunscreen companies are going to love us, since we’re bankrolling their holiday bonuses this year.
  • Some weeds really aren’t that ugly. In fact, I daresay a few are pretty enough that I’m tempted to leave them scattered around the garden and call them wildflowers.
  • If you do let your existing flowers overgrow to the point where they just become a solid mass of tangled color (note Exhibit A, the tiny little rounds of lavender catmint I’d planted a few years ago that, even with haphazard pruning–I’m like Edward Scissorhands out in the yard, all sharp objects and absolutely no clue–have taken over their spot in front of our dining room window), you can just start calling the mess an “English garden” and people will think it’s on purpose.
  • When you haven’t had time to open your pool, even though it’s almost Memorial Day and you’re having a family party on Saturday for your daughter’s birthday, it gives the myriad tadpoles that have been spawned on your pool cover a chance to morph into their teeny, tiny toady selves. Even if you do despise toads and their relentless damned singing every. single. night, at least you can’t be callously accused of killing them all in some sort of cold-hearted amphibicide just so you can spend your summers floating on a raft, drinking margaritas. Though the margaritas do sound kind of nice.

So, wish us luck as we continue our fight against Sgt. Shrubbery and his Soldiers of Sod. I could throw in a metaphor that our yard is just like those tadp0les: see how they thrive with just a little patience, time and decayed-leaf-infested water? We’ll get there. And when it’s all finished (in a year, two years’ time, say?), I’m sure we’d love to have you over to enjoy a frozen beverage and amble about my English garden. You’re more than welcome to stay for a swim, too. What timeline did I give, a couple of years? Yeah. Our pool should be open by then.

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