Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008
Dear Diary:

Even folks here in the valley are starting to wonder if they should be combing the woods for my body.

It's been a crazy month. Lots of job type work to be juggled with maple syrpling. Normally, we ease into spring after maple syrple season, but this year we just ignored spring and went right into summer.

Seriously. One Friday I had over 20 inches of snow in my yard and the following Friday, my daffodils were in bloom and my grass greening up. I have never seen the like of this in my 30 plus years here.

The spousal unit and I went through our touching little pre-spring ritual, the one where we have The Talk about how neither of us is getting any younger and maybe it would be a good idea to scale back on the insane gardening projects.

Yes, we both agree, there's really no need for an insane gardening project.

Then the snow disappears and, of course, we launch an insane gardening project. This year's is going to fall one of two ways: next year I will either believe it was My Best Idea Evah or I will simply add it to the column of proof that I was dropped on my head as a child.

Multiple times.

For as long as I've been keeping this on-line journal, I've been musing that it would probably be a good idea to dig everything out of my long perennial border, dig in compost to restore the soil, divide my perennials to re-invigorate them, and discard the plants I no longer love.

Did I mention that this bed is over 100 feet long and averages about 15 feet deep?

Yeah. It's huge. And because I've been focussed for years now on basically covering every shady square foot of this property with hostas, well, the long border has been sadly, sadly neglected. The lovely mix of charming plants I used to have has skewed now towards the garden thugs, the plants that can withstand neglect.

As of this writing, I have 40+ hours of digging and compost moving under my belt. If I ever have doubts about why I go to the gym three times a week and build as many pretty little gym muscles as I can, one look at that bed is a swift reminder.

Only about a third of the bed has been dealt with. Fortunately, we've had two days of rain, so I'm forced to take a break. Today will be my first foray to the gym in over a week, something that's just unheard of for me. Every spare moment has been me and my new best friend forevah, my shovel.

The hardest part has not been the physical effort. I just put my head down and dig, enjoying the sun, the bird song, the perfume of my daffodil meadow behind me. The hardest part has been to be ruthless. It's a big bed and if I throw out everything I don't absolutely love, it's going to be a fairly barren bed for a few years while I slowly but surely buy plants I do love to re-stock it.

I've been feeling considerable angst about this. The bed has always been pretty in its way, but I know it could be better. I have decided that the physical effort involved in renewing this garden is too huge to compromise on what I put into it.

So this year, I'll buy a quarter pound of nasturtium seeds. They'll fill the soil, give me colour, and keep it from reverting to a sea of weeds. It will be kind of boring, but when the perennial plant sales start mid-summer and in the fall, I'll start scooping up the bargains and growing things that I love. I'm already growing a buttload of globe thistles from seed. Maybe I should grow some more plants.

I will be 57 the end of May. I will probably be 60 before this garden is re-filled. Sixty. I will either look back on this as a great decision, or wonder why the heck I couldn't just leave well enough alone and let the garden perk along.

Gardens are the past, present and future all rolled together. Memories and dreams woven in living bits of green.

In the evenings, as the sun goes down and the world takes a lovely golden edge, I like to walk the property and see how things are doing. This year the lilac hedge I started from tiny whips just two years ago is about to start flowering in earnest. Last year I had one single bloom. This year many plants already carry three or four purple buds.

Nearly fifty years ago the spousal unit played cowboys and Indians in the middle of mother plant of these whips. This hedge, this tiny bit of his childhood, will probably peak just as he reaches his mid-60's.

Past, present, future.

There is so much to do. Right smack in the middle of my daffodil meadow is all the debris and junk treasures left over from where we tore down our old woodshed.

Part of me delights in the feeling of space and possibility that the removal of this building has brought to our yard. Part of me wants to scream at how cluttered and ugly things look, how much work it's going to take to clean that area up. I want it all gone yesterday, but right now I have to focus on the gardens. I only have a tiny time window in which I can dig, divide and reset the plants in my perennial border without setting them back.

One thing at a time, I tell myself. It will all get done. Eventually.

I have been obsessively going on-line to check my credit card charges, looking for my lily order. This morning the charge appeared. A parcel of pure potential has left Manitoba and is heading my way.

I have been dithering for weeks about where to put these lilies. Will I put them in the perennial border? What about where the woodshed used to be? Will we get that cleaned up in time? Should I put the lilies in the walkway bed, or are they too tall?

I feel like a child at Christmas. The possibilities seem infinite.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 174.11 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles


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