A year ago, on my alter-ego site Meet Me in the Drawing Room, I wrote about the Underappreicated Dangers of Gardening. At the time, my relationship with gardening was a tenuous one. I tromped to the local nursery begrudgingly and planted impatiens impatiently. Planting and pruning were chores that needed to be done, but I can’t say I was a particular fan of laying down woodchips.
One summer not too long ago, a friend called to ask for advice because they were planting a garden along their driveway. I laughed as I hit redial. Little did they know… gardening was my cod-liver oil.
Two weeks ago, a different friend asked for my help in designing a flowerbed in his backyard. I jumped for joy and started listing a selection of annuals and herbs that would not only look good together, but would also thrive in the yard’s shade/sunlight distribution.
Yes, I am now a gardening fanatic. Give me a pair of hedge trimmers, and call me Edward Sisscorhands. I’ve voluntarily gone to the nursery more times in two weeks than I ever thought possible. I have plans for a rose garden. Today, after my yoga class, I tackled the last un-landscaped corner of front yard. As I stood under the Juliet balcony, daisies in one hand and trowel in the other, my mother stared in disbelief before running to get me a gin & tonic. She was concerned — I mean, only yesterday, I had planted an herb garden and a cluster of dahlias.
I entertain. I do yoga. I have an MRS degree. I decorate. Now, I garden. They didn’t call me Mini-Martha in college for nothing, ya know.
When my parents bought our home, a turn-of-the-century field-stone and wood farmhouse, back in the 1970s, it was smaller, more rural, and in need of landscaping. Mum & Dad were in their mid to late twenties and new to the States with little money to their names. It was their first house and they were determined to make it their home. Armed with pick-axes and spades, they dug-up over-grown rose gardens and planted hedges, evergreens, and willows. My grandmother smuggled Barberry and maples in from Canada and Rhododendrons were purchased from the nursery.
“I think your father nearly threw the pick-axe at me,” my mother told me when she handed me the gin. I wasn’t surprised.
“We had a fight about where to dig the holes.” Still not surprised.
“I think I won.” I would have been surprised if you hadn’t.
The winter and early spring of 2010 wrought havoc on our yard. Putting aside the dozens of downed branches, we lost the last apple tree on our property — it used to be an apple orchard — as well as two large pines. There’s a gaping hole at the corner of our fence. I’m determined to plant two more rhododendron there. Or maybe that’s where I’ll plant my rose garden.
Despite my ambition, there is a problem. Roses or rhododendron, there are large holes to dig and I need a partner willing to wield a pick-axe and a spade. Gardening is back-breaking work, and it’s always better to have a buddy breaking their back with you (preferably, one with some muscles who takes direction well… knowing his way around a nursery would be a plus).
I make good iced-tea and will willingly bring it out on a tray with some homebaked cookies.
I promise, I won’t throw a pick-axe at you.