Sunday, Jun. 01, 2008
Dear Diary:

It seemed like such a cunning plan.

Anyone who has ever owned a cat will tell you that the sight of freshly turned or cultivated soil is the feline equivalent of ex-lax. Cat sees soil, cat thinks, "Must. Poop. Now."


The thing with gardening in my climate is that you have tiny windows in which to do things. There's no time to mourn lost plants, there's no time for dithering. Gardeners live and die by seasons and weather.

I have been busily refreshing Yahoo Weather for the last week, waiting to find a forecast that guaranteed me frost free days until June 1. Next I was looking for a period of two sunny days followed by lots 'n' lots of rain.

That forecast appeared for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

And so it was that I found myself on my hands and knees most of Thursday planting � pound of nasturtium 'Alaska' seeds. For the uninitiated, that is many, many hundreds of nasturtium seeds.

The weather was absolutely ideal. A hot, sunny day meant that all the weeds I tilled with my little hand cultivator baked and died over Thursday and Friday. The heavy rains predicted for Friday night and into Saturday came, which means the nasturtiums will germinate almost instantly. This gives them a jump on the next crop of weeds.

It's a wonderfully narrow window, and I'm glad it opened in time.

With their full, luxuriant leaves, nasturtiums need relatively little weeding. If I keep up with them until the third week of June or so, when they begin they drive towards total world domination, my weeding days will be done. Colour and no weeds. It's a win-win.

Why so many nasturtiums? Well, when I emptied out my big perennial border of things I don't love, I was left with huge swaths of nothing. Nature does not leave nothing. Leave open ground, and nature will fill it with weeds, pronto. Something had to go in. My cheapest solution, while waiting for the perennial plant sales, was nasturtiums.

Plus the spousal unit loves them. Bonus.

Which leaves me with the soil/cat dilemma. Sure, I could have kept the three cats locked in the house for the next week or so, until the soil lost its freshly turned look, but I can pretty much guarantee that the cats would kill me in my sleep for that one. They barely come into the house to eat anymore. They love being outside with every fibre of their being.

So I figured that if I cultivated the soil, planted the seeds and then tamped the ground down as I went, it would lose its poopy allure. After all, tamped down soil would no longer look like freshly cultivated soil.

So I threw on my gardening clothes, my big straw hat, and set to cultivating and planting. Couldn't help but feel the happy because what could be more wonderful than being outside on a warm, sunny late spring day, the air scented by the first lilac flowers ever from my new hedge?

My thoughts, exactly.

Cultivate a patch, plant it, tamp the soil down. I fell into a happy routine, softly humming under my breath.

Then I heard a sound. The unmistakable sound of digging. The unmistakable sound of earth being excavated with great force. I looked back to where I had earlier carefully planted nasturtium seeds in lovely swirls. What did I see? Binky dropping a test shaft worthy of a coal mine.

That soil that he was launching in great arcs behind him? Full of my carefully planted nasturtiums.

I yelled at him. He ignored me. I waved my cultivator. He ignored me.

He contemplated his test shaft. Was it a worthy receptacle for what we'll delicately term a Binky bomb?

No, no it was not.

He moved about two feet above the original test shaft and began excavating a second shaft. When I saw the first shaft, I was steamed. Now, now the needle was heading towards pissed. I stood up and almost chased the cat. Then I realized that to do that I would have had to run through areas I had just planted, causing more damage than the cat himself.

More yelling, of threats that were both profane and graphic. There were vivid descriptions on how a cat could be skinned and various items that could be made from said cat skin. Arm waving accompanied the threats.

The cat studiously ignored me. He parked his fuzzy butt on the ground and reflected on shaft #2. Was it deep enough? Wide enough? Did it have that certain je ne sais quoi that would make it worthy of his oh so precious deposit?

No, apparently it was not.

To my utter horror, the cat went for test shaft three. Three! Binky was taking more care in the design of his bomb drop than goes into the average golf course. At that point I began to wonder just what, exactly, the symptoms of a stroke were because surely what I was feeling was close to them.

The cat, intent on his mission, completely ignored me. He ostentatiously did his "bombs away" and then began to bury his, uh, gift to the garden. Did he use the enormous mound of soil he had excavated to create the hole?

No, no he did not.

Instead, he began drawing in soil from all around his excavation, thereby destroying even more of my planting. Then he sauntered away, leaving me with two craters and one semi-filled in hole.

The cat came this close to cashing in one of his lives. THIS CLOSE. Good thing he's so stupidly cute.

Last week the spousal unit and I got a flyer for a big garden sale Sunday morning. When we went to the same sale two years ago it rained cats and dogs. This year? Exactly the same thing. The event is cursed.

True gardeners, though, true gardeners scoff at the rain. If there's a chance for something new, something unique, we will pull on our rain slickers and our boots, grab an umbrella and forge raging rivers, if necessary.

It's an illness, I tell you, an illness.

The event is held at a local home that has a landscape which makes me want to tear up everything I've done and start again. The plantings are exquisite, many of the plants very unique.

Normally, I avert my eyes from the vendors selling azaleas because azaleas have trifled with my affections for years now. Like the lilacs, they flower at a time when my gardens are quiet, the hiatus between the explosion of my daffodil meadow and the resurrection of my perennial border.

They appear at a time when I most need garden love, but oh, they are fickle with me. Either they die outright, or they survive but don't flower. But this spring, for the first time ever, I've had azaleas pull through a winter and as I write this, they are flowering.

I might have been able to still my foolish heart, to pass the azalea pusher, except for one thing. As I passed her wares I was hit with a wall of perfume to rival any lily, as potent as any lilac.

I am a sucker for sweet smelling plants. I thought about that enormous swath of barren earth in front of my newly cleaned rocks, earth that used to hold beautiful blue hosta. When the vendor swore the azalea was hardy to my stupidly cold zone 3 climate, I was a goner.

Mixed in with all the other azaleas, it seemed a lovely rich pink. When I got it home and got it planted, well, I realized that the word rich doesn't really cover this colour. It is so searing that I think it can be seen from space.

So pink you can see it from space.

What does it say about me, that I love it?

If it lives, I'm going to buy an azalea a year and start scattering them between those enormous rocks, create a sort of azalea grotto. When I informed the spousal unit of my plan his only comment was, "Uh, could they be a little less pink?"

One minute he's whining to me that there isn't enough colour around here. The next minute, there's whining that there's too much colour.

And they say women can't make up their minds �


Mileage on the Marnometer: 204.61 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles

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