Gardening 101 (Part 1)

Posted on May 18, 2010


A simple garden.

It’s that Scary Time again: time to be thinking about how Life in the Boomer Lane should be thinking about a vegetable garden. Or about Planting Something. In fact, Anything. This is when she gets totally stuck.

Events are happening quickly. A few days ago, LBL went to a client’s house to get a contract ratified. Normally, this is a joyous occasion for her. Instead, the husband and wife were having a difference of opinion about the wife’s behavior the night before. He insisted she was gardening until 1:30AM. She insisted it was only 12:30AM. All joy from ratifying the contract fled from LBL’s brain. Instead, she thought about how normal people were gardening at the exact time that she was watching Chelsea Lately. To make matters worse, the wife told LBL she had several bushes left over and asked her is she wanted them. LBL said “Of course!” having absolutely no idea what she would do with them. The homeowner put the bushes (which looked like meaningless twigs to LBL) into a big garbage bag, briefly explained what they were and how much sun they liked, and sent LBL on her way.

Now LBL had a huge responsibility nestled in the backseat of her car. She was driving home with three bushes. She had already forgotten which bush/twig was which and who liked sun and who didn’t. She felt as though she had just gone baby clothes shopping for her grandson, and the clerk had inadvertently had put three actual babies into the shopping bag.

LBL left the garbage bag outside, propped against a railing (most likely something she would not have done with real babies, unless she was having an unusually distracting day). Then she poured water into the bag. The next day, She marched across the street, borrowed a spade and a big watering can from her neighbor, and sttempte to plant the bushes/twigs.

By this time she had forgotten what they were and why she was doing anything with them, but she decided that planting them anywhere would be an improvement over leaving them in a plastic garbage bag. The first thing LBL noticed, was that the ground was rock solid. No amount of smashing it with the spade made a difference. She watered and watered, dug and dug, and she finally managed to create a shallow depression in the ground. By this time she was exhausted, so she just put the biggest twig of the three in the ground and covered it as best as possible. The other two twigs got an even smaller depression planting. LBL wondered why, in films, digging graves always looked way easier.

The next day, as luck would have it, LBL’s Then Husband’s Now Wife and LBL were at LBL’s niece’s baby shower. LBL mentioned the three bush/twigs to THNW, since she is a “Master Gardener” and spends many hours designing, planting, replanting, and generally constantly rearranging her vast property. She noted, in fact, that the other day, “Ron (aka Then Husband)  said, “Michele! Stop moving plants around!” This is actually, perhaps, the only problem TH never had with LBL. She could never have been accused of moving plants around.

LBL asked THNW how on earth people were able to plant things when the ground was so hard. She assumed the look of a kindly kindergarten teacher when a backward student held a book upside down. She explained that she didn’t have problems like that, and used a lot of words like “tilling,” “aerating,” “mulching,” and “compost.” Apparently, if you use all of these words in the proper sequence, you don’t have to attack your soil with a pneumatic drill in order to plant anything. Just listening to her was making LBL woozy.

That night, LBL had a full tilt boogie Technicolor dream, all about trying to plant a vegetable garden with Now Husband, at the home that she shared with Then Husband. Now Husband didn’t like any of her suggestions, one of with involved filling a stairwell with soil and using that as the garden. They seemed to have reached an impasse, until their attention was diverted by the sight of a dead donkey in an alcove in the back of the house (They had donkeys in the backyard in the dream). LBL isn’t sure what the significance of the deceased donkey was, although Then Husband, being a Republican, would, most likely, have appreciated the symbolism.

The next morning in real life, NH and LBL were sitting on their front porch, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, and generally having a lovely, relaxing start to the day. Suddenly, NH looked straight ahead, put his paper down, pointed to the tallest of the recently planted twigs and asked, “Why on earth would anyone ever plant an azalea bush in the middle of the lawn?”

Why on earth, indeed…

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