Where is Martha Stewart’s production crew when you need them? I mean, really, I could be very happy playing in the garden or in the yard if I had a set-up team to make it easy and enjoyable. The planting beds would be weed free; the soil turned, enhanced and tamped down; and I could breeze in donning really cute gardening gloves with a Smith & Hawkins designer spade. I would dig perfect sized holes for all of my beautiful annuals, perennials, tubers, bulbs, and whatever else I had selected to transform the landscape. The sprinkler system would be de-winterized and if there were any broken pipes or malfunctioning solenoids, the irrigation specialist would have it working in a jiffy. I would be spared the spider infested sprinkler chambers grasping valves and knobs that caused the system to cough, sputter and seize without any actual irrigation or sprinkling success.
I would waltz through the yard making notes for my crew: remove all the invasive weeds, wild violets have got to go, stake the leaning rhododendron, prune the out-of-control fern, fell the upstart pine tree that now towers taller than the fence, re-sod the lawn that is mostly moss, and figure out what happened to the concrete patio that is hiding under a green carpet of algae, moss, and upstart weeds. I would take my little can of spray paint and draw the lines where the lawn edge should be and miraculously it would happen with razor-like precision. I would make a note that the roses need to be pruned and fed, the vegetable garden fed and staked, and why don’t we install a nice arched arbor that a flowering vine can grace?
Instead, I made my way to the Home Depot to purchase value-sized bags of mulch and soil. Being a five-foot-three-inch woman with very little upper body strength, I couldn’t even lift one bag. I did what all women my age should do and asked for assistance. They sent me a woman slightly younger than me with a bit more muscles, but still, I couldn’t stand aside and let her struggle with my purchases. Together we struggled to stack the mulch and soil on a flatbed cart and only by putting all my body weight on the push bar, was I able to navigate my bounty to the cash register. I asked for load-out assist, and this time they sent me a big burly guy to help transfer the stacks of mulch and dirt into my rather small hybrid car. He looked at my ambitious purchases grumpily as he told me about his bad back. Again, I found myself assisting the loading process. As I closed the hatchback he said, “Do you have someone to help you get these out when you get home?” I said, “Yeah, Martha Stewart’s gardening crew.” He shook his head and ambled off.
Getting home I realized that unloading was not going to be easy. I found our wheelbarrow and aligned it with the back of the car. I pushed, pulled and slid several of the bags into the wheelbarrow and lifted the handles to make my way to the side of the house. It wouldn’t budge. Upon closer inspection, the wheelbarrow’s front tire was flat. I bet Martha Stewart doesn’t have to deal with a flat tire on a fully loaded wheelbarrow. I spent the next hour hunting down the bicycle tire pump, realized that the tire valve was in a location that needed to be rotated, and ended up tipping over the wheelbarrow and my load as I tried to turn the wheel. Sigh. After pumping for 10 minutes, I also realized that I hadn’t secured the air valve and not a single puff of air had entered the tire. I suppose this is the part that gets edited out of Martha’s helpful “how to” episodes. I finally succeeded in pumping up the tire, but then I couldn’t lift the bags that had tumbled out, so I just left them in the driveway and slid the other bags from car to barrow. After about five trips, I had unloaded my gardening supplies. It was already 3pm in the afternoon.
For the next two hours I cut and placed landscaping fabric covering up the weedy walkway between the flower beds that also connects the front yard with the back. I pushed, rolled, and pulled each bag of mulch into place, slit it open with my kitchen scissors and watched a weed-free path emerge. By 6pm I still hadn’t even touched the soil enhancer that was supposed to prepare my planting beds for their future bounty. I wonder what Martha would say about my garden variety time management.
So after a back-breaking day of work, I don’t feel like it was a day of play at all. I trudged and toiled in the garden, I have the aching muscles to prove it and I have a nice little path to show for it. I’ll let you know if I ever get to the point where I can dig nice little holes in the soft dirt for an awaiting array of cheery plants. But if you see Martha’s crew anywhere out there, send them my way.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012