Gardening – it sounds so much better than “pulling weeds”…

This past weekend we finally got around to working in our gardens and flower beds. We’ve had an especially rainy spring and other than mowing the lawn between rainstorms we hadn’t done any real yard work yet this season. The task seemed overwhelming.

I rarely find working in the yard therapeutic. I know folks who swear that they can’t wait until they can “get their hands in the dirt”. But usually it just seems like work to me and this time was no exception – ugh! I started by pulling the “run-away” mint that my next door neighbor planted several years ago. According to Neighbor Bob (who is one of the nicest and most sincere guys that I know) he had no idea it would spread like wildfire and take over our side yard as well as his. Well at least it pulls easily and smells nice. Then there was a dead holly bush to remove. There were dead heads to cut-off of the peonies and hydrangea. And while Deb was pulling weeds out of the landscaping in the front yard, I “girded my loins” and made my way to the dreaded terrace.

If you squint your eyes it doesn't look too bad

The Terrace – sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Our backyard is terraced upwards and is full of shrubs, trees and perennials planted by the previous owner. She planted for seasonal color and variety – so we have red bud trees, jonquils, daffodils, and crocus; followed by lilacs and forsythia. As spring continues we see crabapple tree blossoms, daisies, peonies, iris, roses and lilies-of-the-valley. As summer approaches so do the hibiscus, tiger lilies and day lilies, along with the crepe myrtle and hydrangea. Fall brings the aster and the burning bushes in all their glory. Amidst this entire splendor are WEEDS. Miserable, lousy, rotten, stinking weeds!

I take a two-thronged approach toward weed control. I pull the good-for-nothing invaders (until my hands are sore and I’ve exhausted all known curse words) AND then I try to smother them with mulch. The weed-pulling and mountains of mulch are only temporary solutions at best. I’ve tried weed-killer sprays in the past but I usually only end up killing flowers or the occasional shrubbery. After a weekend (or two) of working at it ‘The Terrace’ usually looks okay from a distance. And that’s good enough for me. But of course the process needs to be repeated throughout the growing season.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people with BEAUTIFUL GARDENS must be mentally ill masochists who have nothing better to do with their time than to make normal people feel inadequate about their failure to control the weeds in their “poor excuse of a garden”. Because no matter how many gardening magazines or how-to books I’ve read or shows I’ve watched on HGTV, I still find myself pulling weeds. They never show the “behind the scenes” photos in those magagzines or on the Home & Garden shows of the poor slob that’s got sweat dripping down to his garden clogs. You’ll never see Martha Stewart slathered in calamine lotion because she’s mistakenly pulled poison sumac with her bare hands – she’s got some flunky doing that grunt work.

So as much as I’ve tried (and I have tried) I have yet to derive any bucolic pleasure from gardening. It’s just hot, itchy, back-breaking, weed-pulling work. Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of green asphalt or indoor-outdoor carpet. And who decided which ones are weeds and which ones are wildflowers anyway?

This coming weekend I’ll be “gardening” again – of course that just means pulling more weeds…



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