Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is It Nap Time?

I’m not much of a gardener. I can recognize a tree and tell the difference between one and say a bush. I know that perennials come back every year and annuals keep green house operations in the black. I know that tulips, daffodils and gladiolas grow from bulbs and petunias grow from seeds. I know that rose bushes need to be judicially pruned, but I’m not sure when. I can generally tell a weed from a not-weed. I’m not all that fond of worms.

I’ve tried my hand at gardening once or twice. It wasn’t pretty.

But that didn’t stop me from buying a house that requires not just some gardening, but a total landscape makeover. The previous owner, in an effort to reduce the amount of mowing her tenant would have to do, covered almost the entire yard in gravel. On a daily basis I stand outside or gaze out my bedroom window perplexed and overwhelmed by it all.

Beneath the gravel lies a layer of lumber wrap – the cheaper alternative to landscape fabric. It was a valiant attempt at keeping the weeds at bay. And I must say that it nearly worked! The weeds were laughing so hard, they almost forgot to grow. But they composed themselves and the riverbed- look is quickly – way faster than I can keep up with – turning green. And in this case green is not good.

The back yard today

In my probable naivety, I have devised a plan. It involves a shovel, a wheel barrow and almost certainly a good deal of pain. In order to cut down on the pain part, I’m doing my best to recruit volunteers with shovels of their own to assist by taking on some of it. A few have stepped up and offered to sacrifice their healthy backs to the cause. If my vision is even remotely possible to achieve, it will be worth it.

I estimate that there are three to four dump-truck loads of gravel that have to be moved. I’m guessing that I may need a much bigger shovel than the one I have, but I think that I might be better off working up to the upgraded spade. Like any fitness program, one must start out with the lowest weights and fewest reps, increasing incrementally. Can you say Ben Gay?

The end result, God willing, will see my yard transformed from a chaotic jumble of gravel, plants and weeds to a veritable Eden. (I already have the apple tree!) The main feature in my Eden will be a classic, seven-circuit Cretan Labyrinth which I will construct using – you guessed it – the existing gravel. There’s nothing like repurposing to give gravel… Well, a purpose. Around the outer edge of the labyrinth will be a vegetable garden (but not this year). I’m thinking some potatoes, some peas and some carrots. Maybe some other stuff, but I don’t know what. Beyond the circular veggie patch will be lawn, dotted with two or three small flower beds and a couple more trees. I’m hoping to score one of those funky hardy oak trees. Some day.

My beautiful apple tree

Eventually a fence will be in order. I would like to do something interesting and I have an idea that involves some rather elaborate scroll work in treated plywood, which is way beyond my current ability to achieve, not only because I don’t have a jig saw, but I’m a bit power-tool-aphobic. I can draw the pattern and help construct the frame work; I’m fine with the low-tech stuff like hammers. After all the gravel shovelling is said and done, I could probably dig the post holes…. It’s all a future thing anyway.

For now, a goon-spoon, some back and shoulder pain and sheer determination are the order of the day.

Is it nap-time yet?

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