Spring was hard on Winter’s heels, and I looked forward to planting some dahlias, tomatoes, and herbs. Money, however, was an issue, so instead of having planters built (you know the raised beds surrounded by wood), I found children’s wading pools–fierce fushia–that I used for planters. I brought them home, placed them where I wanted them, put holes in the bottom, and filled them with pure, loamy, garden soil.
As I planted the dahlias–mere bulbs at this point–I swear I heard them humming. They couldn’t wait to get started; they were ready for this new home and didn’t seem to mind the planters that they were in. Planted next were tomatoes; I had high hopes for them and could already taste their juicy, ripe fruit. Third, herbs were planted: that wading pool wanted to foster basil, lavender, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro. I faithfully watered the three wading pool plants daily before the sun was too hot and late in the afternoon when the sun began to think of setting.
I could watch the sunset as I watered my garden.Many times the sunset shot hot orange and pink colors like party streamers into the sky. As the sun fell out of sight, the colors became lavender grey, pearl pink, and whispering orange. At its final sinking, the sun gave a burst of light, and the sky darkened quickly.
In mid-summer, the air is hot early in the morning. The sun is up already and encouraging plants to grow. As I watered, I felt contented and hopeful that my small garden planted in three wading pools would yield great results. As the days passed and the weeks grew into months, I retrieved at least 2 or 3 dahlia bouquets every ten days or so. And even though the dahlias were not spectacular, they were pretty and did a nice job in a bouquet. In fact, one reason that I grow dahlias is because I like their big boom of hot color; they yield yellow and orange in one bloom; purple and white in another. However, these blooms were subdued and seemed cowed by the steaming summer heat. The other plants seemed to take their cue from the dahlias.
The tomatoes had begun to reject Mother Earth; they acted as if they were aliens from a galaxy far far away, unfamiliar with the sun, the heat, and their own purpose which was to produce nice tomatoes. The more I tended to them, the more wan they became, the less vigorously they grew, and the more they lost interest in their mission. Well, I thought, the herbs are going to be fine. Ha, they weren’t and neither was I.
I had developed a very bad stomach ache was away in hospital and rehab for most of the month. And when I got home, I could not attend to the garden. I could no longer pull heavy bags of soil, lighter bags of mulch, nor could I mow the lawn. Thankfully, the neighbors had watered when they could.
However, I came back to a lawn that was in revolt and plants that had given up hope. In August here, plants become leggy, especially when they haven’t been tended for six weeks. My dahlias played a version of Sit, Stand, Lean, and while it was improvisational, it wasn’t pretty. The dahlias half heartedly bloomed, nor did they care to present themselves fierce or hot. The yellow-orange blossoms whinged and they were not robust. In fact, they laid on their sides reminding me of exhausted helium balloons.
The tomatoes became twisted and were a pale green and looked like they would collapse in a column of ash. They were dry and unhappy. They panted in the sun; they acted as if the pure garden soil was poisonous;they were not prospering. I pulled them out of the ground and laid them to rest. The rest of my yard was not happy either.
My grass–it laughed at me, yawned, and proceeded to die leaving brown swaths throughout both the front and the back lawns. As if having my yard mock my efforts was not enough, my neighbor was not pleased either. The old man next door craned his neck over the high wall of his privacy fence. “Hey, when are you going to have this lawn cut? I saw a snake in the backyard!” Truth was I had hired two lawn tending companies to care for my lawn.
The first came and cut the lawn twice; the second time he became surly and complaining of the heat and his age, he blamed me for his aches and pains. I retreated to the safety of my house. He took off with $80 that he was to use to buy supplies for my yard. The second lawn service was recommended to me by my next door neighbor, whose yard looked like an ad for lawn fertilizer. And, the owner of this lawn service lived around the corner from me. I thought my problem was solved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Part 1 finished
Part 2 is coming