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It’s early Spring in south-eastern Ontario and oh, wait, what?

This just in:  the flowerbed is trying to kill me.

Based on how I feel about The Nature, you might have already guessed that I am not really a gardener type.  In fact, I’m rather a grey thumb.  That is, when plants get anywhere near me, they turn a sickly sort of grey and hang around, torturing me for a while with their droopy leaves and browned-up flowers and unrequited dreams of a life spent being watered, before finally expiring and leaving me with a plastic container thing-y that I don’t know what to do with.

I can’t just throw it away.  Those plastic plant containers take about a zillion trillion years to compost down.  Not like my poor, dead plant, which was composting (drama, drama) in the plastic container thing-y, long before it officially died.

Usually, I give the plastic container thing-y to Practical Man and he puts another plant in it.

Sigh.

Yep, he’ll plant a seed from the apple he was eating at lunch.  Or, the stem of the celery we have in the fridge.

Not to give back to me, oh no.

He’s not stupid, that one.

He does, however, have a very green thumb.  He can grow sticks, that man.  Not to mention, bits of kale from the grocery store that I cut off before chopping up some to put in the oven.

Show off.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t grow stuff.  So, I’m not quite sure why there is a flower bed out to get me.

flowerbed looking mulched and weed-free

Last summer, when the flowerbed and I had called a (all too) brief truce.

But, there is.  Right along the front sidewalk (which no one ever uses because we live in the country and in the country you always enter people’s houses through the open garage door), it lies in wait.  It and its companion on the sunny side of the house.

I have to confess that there are no windows overlooking the second flowerbed on the sunny side of the house so that one gets largely ignored because I can pretend it doesn’t exist.  It’s not as if I wander around the perimeter of the house and see it all the time.

That side of the house is out in The Nature people.  Don’t you read my blog?

So, I can see where the flowerbed on the sunny side of the house would feel put upon and maybe even downright hostile towards me.

But, with four windows facing directly out on it, the front bed gets a fair bit of attention.

It spends most of the day in the sun so it’s a little micro-climate of its own (that sounds like I’m all official and garden-y, doesn’t it?) that doesn’t require much intervention to keep things alive.  That is to say, Practical Man no doubt revives it while I’m at work, but, full of perennials, a couple of bushes, and no annuals, I can pretend it’s just magically growing on its own.   We mulched it last year with that store-bought stuff that looks seriously artificial and probably leaches chemicals into our water table, but I desperately wanted to make the flowerbed feel loved so that maybe, maybe, it would play nice.

I have viewed others’ gardens, replete with chemical mulchiness and they look lovely.  Tidy.  Weed-less.  Just like I thought ours would look.

Ha!

So, I don’t quite understand how when the blanket of snow came off and the softly-rounded heads of daffodils, pasque flowers and grape hyacinth started poking out of the ground, mere days ago, this source of Springtime pleasure and much celebration turned so very very quickly to Yes Indeedy, This Flowerbed Is Trying to Kill Me.

More on that in a moment.

In other gardening news, we pulled out two giant clumps of bushes in the lawn last summer and Practical Man has put down repeated layerings of grass seed, only to have the spots – a year later, still look like male-pattern baldness in our lawn.  Now, the baldness doesn’t really matter because seeing it would require me to go out in The Nature, to fume over that which some suburbanites would find an atrocity, but I really don’t understand why grass won’t grow very well, even for a green-thumbed Practical Man, when you want it to.

Except if it’s in the flowerbed.

The flowerbed, which has only been “awake” (that’s probably not an official, garden-y term) for a little over two weeks, is full.  Full, I tell you, of evil, extremely healthy and prolific G-R-A-S-S.  Several, virulent country types, no less.

flowerbed full of grass (and a precious few flowers)

All that green stuff?  GRASS!

All that straw-looking stuff?  More GRASS!

grape hyacinths and GRASS

Oh no, you can pretend you’re a grape hyacinth all you want – but I know you’re in there, GRASS!

And not the male pattern baldness kind either.  This is full-head-of-hair-and-lots-coming-out-the-ears grass.  Clever, clever grass that sneaks its way up the middle of a single iris stalk, barely out of the ground.  If I didn’t hate it so much, I would admire its sneaky tenacity.  To remove the grass root means digging up the entire bulb and painstakingly teasing away the grass.  Painstaking is not in my vocabulary (unless it’s painstakingly licking every last drop of chocolate off the tinfoil it arrived in) and I can’t deal with more plant murders on my record, so I’m not doing that.

This weekend, while Practical Man installed the mower deck on the tractor in preparation for acres of lawn mowing over our male pattern baldness areas, I decapitated grass shoots in approximately 3% of a square foot in our front flowerbed and tried not to get all fainty (from the bending over and standing up) or spinny (from the turning my head recklessly looking for sneaky grass shoots) or fall down, weeping hysterically, every time my eyes accidentally swayed to the right or left of my “section”.

It was like doing hard time.  Like I was on a chain gang, except with grass and fainting and spinning.

Okay fine, there may have been some Feels Like Jagger music to help me cling to my sunny disposition. A girl can only take so much murderous intent from a flowerbed before she has to find her flowerbed anthem–What Doesn’t Kill You (Makes You Stronger)–and sing along with Ms. Kelly C.

It was at some point during this torture with a peppy soundtrack, that I remembered something.

Something wise and scientific and mostly, probably, almost certainly true.  I recalled what my former colleague and (this is an official and garden-y designation) Master Gardener friend used to say:

“Perennial gardens are meant to be looked at from a distance.”

That means:  keep far, far away from the flowerbed that is trying to kill me.

If you do, I might just get out alive.

Tra-la-la.

perfect flowerbed - but only for a moment

Best to focus on this: the small moments of truce between me and the flowerbed.


All that rain recently and The Nature has become a bit mutant.

The kale in the veggie patch looks like some kind of science experiment.  The yucca has sprouted its 8-foot tower topped with bell-shaped blossoms.  A torrential downpour or two has made things bend and droop in unbecoming ways.  Returning from a few days away, it was obvious that we had to do a little hacking back of our flower garden.

Do not weep for the abundant daisies, lupins or black-eyed Susans, my friends.  They are strong, resilient and weed-like in their proliferation.

(In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re in cahoots with the actual weeds.  Why else would they snuggle up so tight with the enemy?)

Despite their suspicious dalliances, these tall, billowy flowers also blow and tra-la-la in the wind in an English-garden-around-the-manor-I-do-not-own manner that endears them to me.  So often, instead of pruning them into the compost heap, we cut them off at the pass and I put them in this vintage vase.

vintage vase with decoupage orange flowers

This 70s beauty cried out to me from a sea of Christmas decorations at the yard sale.  It cried, “Buy me, I am only 10 cents!”

Behold the retro, bubbly texture of the glass.  So fun!

Today, it was the Susans that were mis-behaving, so they got the snip.  There were so many of them that they made an instant bouquet, sneaky devils that they are.

black-eyed susans in a vase

A cheerful handful from the garden.

Only the truly heartless can throw full-beauty blossoms straight in the compost, no matter how invasive their tendencies.

Right?

So yes, I’m going to need a lot more vases.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.