While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.

The Tenacity of Life, Part VI, Attitude Adjustment

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I’ve been fighting bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, for all the years I’ve lived here (north Seattle).  And despite my many and varied efforts at eradication – smothering them with cardboard and a deep layer of wood chips, pulling them out by hand (bulb and all), repeated applications of vinegar on a warm, sunny spring day – I have more now than when I started.   This spring passers-by commented on the lovely blue carpet that is my garden.  “Can’t get rid of them,” I grumble.  “Yes, but they’re so pretty!”  is the response I hear.  I offer to send some home with the visitor but the answer is always a polite “no thanks” and a quick backing away.  So there I am, a bucket full of freshly pulled bluebells and a grumpy attitude, when someone else walks by and says “Did you know those are invasive?”  I respond with a look, point to my bucket, and my critic says “Oh, well then, have a nice day!”  I’m not sure what it will take to finally eradicate these tough, determined little bulbs from my garden, and I have a feeling that my last words may include something like “The horror! They’re blooming!”, but in the meantime I have decided to enjoy the color they bring (blue is my favorite, after all) while I continue to pull them out by their stubborn little roots.  And I know I’ll see them again next spring.

The street-front of our property includes 2 small garden beds and a grassy area for parking.  Since this area is only accessed by our front steps or the street, it is difficult to get the mower down those steps and even trickier to get it back up.   And that includes the small push-mower I use towards the end of spring.  So I have resorted to using a line-trimmer to cut the grass in this area.  For the most part, this works well.  However, because I find that I use the line-trimmer more than any other power-tool in my arsenal, and I only buy the cheapest electric model I can find, each one has a short, difficult life.   This area is also where drainage from our property settles resulting in an incredibly lush growth of grass from April through July (even in drought conditions).  So I struggle with the cord (plugging in the trimmer to the light pole at the top of the stairs) while protecting young plants during the process, and I stop trimming whenever a short little young person comes near to ask me “Why are you doing that?”   I wonder that myself, sometimes.  My work is also interrupted by having to add more line, and this is quite a chore because of frequency and because I have to unplug the trimmer, take off my gloves to get the cap off, make sure the spring doesn’t fall out, wrap the line around the mechanism that is supposed to feed it out but doesn’t, put the damn cap back on, plug it back in, get back to work but stop when a family walks by and wants to compliment me on the garden and ask what that plant over there is and where did I get it and do I want to pet their dog?  Sure.  I get back to work and, shortly, hit a brick with the line which makes the line too short to cut the grass at the speed I’m used to, so I start the cap-removal process all over again.  This time, however, the spring shoots out the instant I remove the damn cap, and I watch it fly across the street (as if in slow motion) to my neighbor’s front garden which has grass taller than mine and I realize I’ll never see that spring again.  At this point, I’m ready to set the grass on fire when another walker passes by, smiles and waves, and says “What a lovely spring day!”

And she’s right, it is.



Author: dphare2014

Horticulturist, Lead Steward Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens, Author

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