These are the things I hate. The New York Yankees (who have ruined baseball), Wonder Bread, T.V. evangelists and, of course, gardening.
It started weeks ago, when Blue Eyes was planning her “garden” on her postage-stamp, sunless lawn. This ruined a perfectly good “Pardon the Interruption,” show, with my favorite wise guy, Tony Kornheiser. Some things are sacred.
She was planning flowers for the house, which have to be changed every year, for some reason. I don’t know baby’s breath from orchids and have never understood the attraction of these often colorful weeds. She constantly offers to provide flowers for my (brand new) deck. I always decline, knowing they will never get watered, will die, and I will never hear the end of it.
That is just the start.
On three successive Saturdays, we will visit Home Depot, Lowe’s, The Green Thumb and any other business will sells seeds or plants. If I can get away with it, I will sit in the car and avoid the whole thing. But we both remember the story of the woman who was kidnapped from a Rockland grocery store. If she wants me to tag along, she always brings that one up.
Once we have decided who has the best plants, seeds and flowers at the best prices we (she) will make a final decision, after another tour of Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Green Thumb. Decisions are not final. Maybe the available plants will have wilted in the meantime. More visits to Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Green Thumb are always possible.
The plants, seeds or flowers will be delivered to the mini-mansion of Blue Eyes.
Then, she will check her supply of potting soil, fertilizer, compost, and manure. If anything is missing or running low, we will make still another tour of Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Green Thumb. The bags will be heavy and I will be required to make the trip and schlep the bags to the car, then to the garage, then to the wheelbarrow and finally, weeks later, to the planting site.
Once the various ingredients are assembled in the garage, it is planting time. This is also the signal for the black flies to start their Memorial Day parade.
I learned everything I had to learn about gardening when my poor, sainted father tried to grow grass on Perham Street in Boston, in a tiny lot surrounded and dominated by huge trees. Only a few isolated beams of sunshine ever made it to the ground. That did not stop my father from seeding, watering, rolling and weeding the dirt in a doomed attempt to grow grass. When it did grow, it sort of looked like Donald Trump’s Dairy Queen comb-over and quickly perished. That never stopped my father.
It stopped me.
But Blue Eyes never gives in.
Of course, I must run her wheelbarrow, and then dig the hole, which is never quite deep enough, or wide enough. Fertilizer, manure and potting soil must be mixed to the correct chemistry. Next plant. Next flower.
Naturally, I hate every single second of this process and make this sentiment widely known. Every year she says “I ask you to dig three holes a year and you spend more time complaining than you do digging.”
Guilty as charged.
Since the Blue Eyes mini-mansion has not seen the sun since World War I, the health of these plantings is always tenuous. (It reminds of the barren Perham Street lot) Since a brook runs under the property, there is always plenty of water and an endless supply of the biggest slugs you have ever seen. They will eat more of this year’s tomato plants than she ever will.
This is a fruitless (pun intended) task, but one that is performed every year. Every year I tell her that Hannaford sells perfectly good tomatoes at a far lower price than the cost of the plants, manure, compost, potting soil, fertilizer, bug spray and the rest. If you pay yourself an imaginary minimum wage for digging, planting, watering and killing slugs, you are way behind.
Don’t forget weeding.
“You say that every year,” Blue Eyes said.
Guilty as charged.