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Green whispers [Mar. 11th, 2006|04:02 pm]
[Current Mood |cynicaltoyed with]

Spring, that tarty trollop, sashayed by this morning, waggling her hips and winking over her shoulder. I'm ashamed to admit I was utterly roped in by her ploy. I glanced out the dining room window at a sunny morning, and noticed that the daffodils and the tulips were a full two inches high, dozens of green shoots thrust up through the ground in quite the phallic display. I surveyed the back garden and realized that the time for the first cleanup had arrived. A quick trip to the grocery store fetched the brown paper garden debris bags that we are asked to use here (garden waste is composted by the city). I had to ask a manager if they had any. They were in the back, he told me with a quizzical look, stored away until, you know, spring? I told him it was a lovely day and I wanted to get a head start on cleaning up. That seemed industrious enough to satisfy his Puritan work ethic, and he fetched me two bundles, five bags each. They are enormous bags, the size of a trash can.

In three and a half hours, I stuffed six of them full.

It's not that we didn't do a fall cleanup. Kristi actually left the garden looking very neat. But we have nine large Maiden Grass plants, their stalks waving a couple feel above my head, their circumferences approaching barrel-like. We have been told not to cut them until spring, because they come back stronger that way. Now, rumor has it that you can tie the stalks together and then cut them through at the base and make quick work of it, but whatever the tool is for doing this impressive sheering, I do not own it. Instead, I spent the time squatting, sheering, standing, bagging the stalks, then squatting again. Two hours and change, plus three trash bags, of this alone.

My butt hurts. I anticipate not being able to walk tomorrow.

Yes, it would have been wiser to pace myself, do half of it today, wait another day to do the rest. Alas, the vagaries of life dictate that I do not work that way. Who knows what crisis tomorrow will bring?

Once all the grass was cut, there was raking to be done. We have no large trees in the back, but the neighbors behind us have a huge oak that fills our yard with detritus. Between that and the stalks of the Maiden Grass that the wind had blown loose, the place was a mess. The rakings resulted in two and a half more bags.

I stood back to survey my work. The garden still looks like crap.

Oh, it's better. And two years ago I might even have pronounced it pretty good. But Kristi lived here a year and showed me how good it could really look. I swear, that girl must have been out there plucking up individual leaf shreds. I have no idea how she got it so clean.

I learned a lot from her year here. I learned that boldly hacking back plants generally led to them fighting for their lives and coming back stronger and healthier - a Rocky approach to gardening. I learned that timidity in deciding where things should grow was a weakness. But I also learned that the whole thing can look a hell of a lot better than I have time to make it look. And that part is a little depressing.

With half a bag left to fill, I took a first swipe at the herb garden. I hacked out the brittle, dead parts of the lemon grass, the mint and the thyme, and was gratified to see the first tender shoots of spring beneath them. I could have done a lot more, but even I know when I have reached the limit.

Besides which, the sky began spitting snow. Oh, only for a minute, but it was enough. I checked the forecast. Sure enough, snow is predicted for next week. Spring gave me a gardening woody, then ran away giggling once again.

She's such a tease.

[User Picture]From: springdew
2006-03-11 09:46 pm (UTC)
I most assuredly did not! *wink*

Sorry, couldn't help it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-11 09:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't you deny it! ;-)
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[User Picture]From: mycorethoughts
2006-03-11 09:56 pm (UTC)
In May, that Lusty Season
a traditional round
Spring, that tarty trollop, reminded me of this:

In May, that lusty season,
To gather the flowers down by the meadows green.
The birds sang on every branch,
So merrily it joyed my heart.
They toyned so clean.
The nightingale sang on high joyfully,
So merrily among the thornes keen.

It's a traditional round from the 1600s. ;)

I know what you mean about wanting to get out in the garden and get things started. *sigh* I'm going to hold off on doing anything until the weather is a bit warmer on a more permanent basis before bothering. If I do anything now, I just get frustrated.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-11 10:07 pm (UTC)
Glad I so inspired you - I love the round!

I'm glad to have the maiden grass out of the yard - I love the look, but it makes such a mess at this time of year! I've definitely had my spurt of energy for the time being and will be happy to go back into hibernation for another month.
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From: williaej
2006-03-11 10:30 pm (UTC)
Such is the joy of the South, where Spring has been sitting outside my window for a good two weeks begging me to at least come play. Some time around Mardi Gras she started flashing me her pansies, but I ignored her follow-up proposals (though I did continue watering said pansies, if you know what I mean).

Today, she had finally had enough. She started screaming at me. I'm usually very good at ignoring her, as every time she and I have a fling I end up with some sort of illness involving discharge* and vow never to see her again, but today was different.

Today, she started blowing her cool breath on me, and I knew I couldn't resist.

I spent a good hour and a half getting my screened porch ready for spring, sweeping, hosing the furniture down, finally getting rid of the chair cushions that needed disposal last season but that I thought I could get another year out of, getting room cleared out for the bajillions of baby herbs that are just starting to poke their heads out in the seed-starter tray in the upstairs window.

But like always, a romp with Spring left me ill.

Next time I dally with her, I'll have to use protection.


*Mucus, people! I have severe allergies to grass.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-11 10:45 pm (UTC)
I completely sympathize with your inability to play with spring unprotected. Today I went out without antihistamines and survived relatively well, but it's only because nothing has really started growing yet. I am allergic to damned near everything that turns green and grows.
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[User Picture]From: draxar
2006-03-11 11:13 pm (UTC)
I know it's a fairly random (and possibly creepy) question, but approximately where do you live? Just because today two people I read who live in America have blogged "Ooh Spring!" in fairly short succession, and I'm wondering if you're anywhere near each other. (The other being the author Neil Gaiman).

No stalking will occur, honest!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-12 12:55 am (UTC)
Cleveland, Ohio area. You'd have a hard time stalkig me based on that. ;-)

I have no idea where Neil Gaiman lives.
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2006-03-12 08:02 pm (UTC)
Minnesota/Wisconsin or thereabouts.
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[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2006-03-12 12:16 am (UTC)
I hear you on the "hack them to within an inch of their lives" theory.

I bought a house in London with 9 or 10 rose bushes in the front yard. The day we moved in my friend John who was helping us, pointed at the 4ft tall bushes covered in blossoms and said: "Those need help. I'll be back in the spring. It'll cost you lasagna."

In February he returned, armed with +5 Secateurs of Doom. While I created a magnificent lasagna in the kitchen, he slaughtered my rose bushes. He also treated them and the soil for black spot.

Every bush was reduced to 4 or 5 stalks about 6-8" long. I was devastated, but far too polite to say so. We ate lasagna and drank lots of good beer, so much so that John crashed on the couch for the night, and took the leftover lasagna home with him in the morning.

By the middle of May they were a couple of feet tall again and covered with buds and early blossoms. No matter how many blooms we picked (and we took bunches in to work to sit aromatically on our desks, had more in every room of the house) there were more. Till mid-November.

The next February, when he came to do the dreadful deed, I asked him where he'd learned this skill -- turns out he'd been a crematorium gardener while a student.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-12 01:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, she did that to my roses, too. I went pale. They were beatiful.
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2006-03-12 02:50 am (UTC)
The fall-flowering clematis came down to knee high earlier in the week. It'll be back to 30' by autumn.

Maiden grass ... Paul James did a piece on that. Thought he said pruning saw. Check out his 'Gardening by the Yard' section on hgtv.com. Ah, here it is ... http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_plants_grasses/article/0,,HGTV_3607_1378119,00.html
Yup, he said pruning saw! :)

Garden report from slightly more inland than you -- the minor bulbs (crocus, snowdrop) are out in force. The major bulbs (tulip, daff) are thinking about it, leaf sprouts but no flower stalks yet. And the Witch Hazel is truly in bloom. If the Witch Hazel is truly in bloom (and smells amazing!), then it really is spring. We may yet see more snow, don't put out the tender annuals, but if the WH says it's spring, it really is spring.

Makes it a good time to start your tomatoes, your basil, and maybe some of your other memorial-day planting veggies ... yummm ... :D
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-12 03:15 am (UTC)
I tried my pruning saw, to no avail. Probably because it's a crappy one.

I have a postage stamp yard and no southern exposure for starts. I am one of the unfortunates who buys starts from the greenhouse, but I do enjoy my wee space.
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From: whoa_bitter
2006-03-12 04:12 am (UTC)
Spring, that tarty trollop, sashayed by this morning, waggling her hips and winking over her shoulder.

Some of us are entering autumn. They don't even have the decency to call it fall.

People are covering up. Courses at university are picking up, so people spend time studying rather than at the pub.

And Easter, the big fertility festival it is, is strangely out of place. Putting rabbits, enemies of all natural ecosystems here, strangely has adverse effects.

This bitter post brought to you by somebody who misses spring
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-12 02:02 pm (UTC)
Well, that's what you get for living upside down.


Beleive me, I know that regretful feeling from reading the spring posts of Aussie friends in October. I don't think I could ever adapt to Christmas being a summer holiday.
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[User Picture]From: babysmomma
2006-03-12 01:59 pm (UTC)
"a gardening woody" hehe... I seem to have one of those lately too. But it made me giggle to hear it put that way.
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2006-03-12 08:04 pm (UTC)
After the sun came out yesterday--and it's doing it again today--it was absolutely beautiful here in Indy yesterday, and we did some yard/garden stuff. Hopefully I can get a "real" garden going after that pathetic, rock-infested thing from last year, and the balcony garden from a few years before that...

Today, so far, has been devoted to spring cleaning. Or "Why isn't it spring yet?" cleaning.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-13 12:02 am (UTC)
Good luck! We just had drizzle today, but we did get out for a five-mile walk. It was damp and foggy, perfect for a long tramp.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-03-13 01:28 pm (UTC)
I knew spring had sashayed by this past Saturday when I spent our four hour round of golf sneezing constantly. And repeating that during out visit to the zoo on Sunday to see the baby panda.

Stupid trees and their public orgies.
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[User Picture]From: mamaursula
2006-03-14 12:03 am (UTC)
I mentioned to my husband that this was the first weekend of spring, screw what the calendar said, it was beautiful down here in Cincy too. I didn't do squat in the yard though, because it promptly rained on us the whole weekend! Now we have little grasslings coming up in the back yard, where that evil bush used to be (we killed the stump though, no fighting for life here). I need a wood chipper though, this is the year I reclaim the bottom of the hill.
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