Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Maintaining My Edge

Mars says that I am more of a writer who happens to garden ­ as opposed to a plantsman who blogs about his favorite avocation.  This summer however I am in definite danger of spending too much time and energy in the yard, and then not having enough of either left to pen about it.  This is an effort to maintain my edge.
The thing is, I really think we that we FINALLY just about have our yard looking the way we want it – until I look across from whatever flowerbed I have just finished working on, to whatever bed is in the nearest eyeshot and discover what my work for tomorrow will be.
My most recent obsession is the grass that grows along the edge of some of those perennial patches.  I have come to like to see a subtle delineation between the two areas – definitely not a rubber garden edging look  – more like an unspoken agreement between the fescue and whatever plant (hosta for example) with which it is contiguous to allow each to quietly lean into their respective spaces without ever actually touching the other.  The borders that are easiest to maintain are by their nature the ones that least satisfy my (perhaps odd to some) adjacency aesthetic.  In two of the three plots on which we spread mulch, the decaying bark forms the outer edge allowing me to mow right up to it without disturbing any of its living inhabitants.  
The other mulched bed, as well as our two full-to-the-gunwales gardens within which the ground is not visible, and the area that forms the southern border of our property however all have the potential to satisfy my quest for that faux natural look – with a lot of work.
The principle problem is the nature of the grass.  While all of the thin green leaves of turf in the inner part of my lawn willingly offer themselves up to the churning blades of my Toro “Self-Pace’ mower and/or my rechargeable (but not for quite long enough) string-trimmer – the blades that choose to grow on the periphery seem to literally be “blades”, as in sabre or epee (for you crossword puzzle people) – sturdy, battle-hardened, weapons all firmly fastened to the earth on which they stand with the tenacity of Bernie Sanders.
They only yield to hand-to-hand combat – which I am now committed to on at least a weekly basis.
I do allow myself one weapon – my hand grass clipper.  You know that thing that looks like a pair of oversized scissors that got caught in a doorway and twisted into uselessness.  This was, as I recall, the first gardening tool that I ever used – not this particular one of course but, as you will see, one of its older ancestors – although pretty much identical in terms of technology.
As an elementary school kid, while my father and mother were at work and I was not in school, I sometimes spent time with Aunt E.  She was a stay-at-home wife with no children; a homeowner (my parents always rented hence my almost total lack of gardening heritage); and someone who spent basically everyday of the growing season doing some form of yard or vegetable garden activity. And when I was there, I was “volunteered” to help.   My job was edging – probably because the job required no skill, knowledge or experience, and I was closer to the ground than she was.  In the world prior to string trimmers (aka “weed wackers”), the low-tech, hand operated grass clipper was the preferred (and possibly only) device available for cutting such grass that was to close to objects, or on a steep or irregular terrain.
At an age when all such adult activities were totally boring, this activity was particularly mind numbing to me.  My only recollections are of tiny sticks frustratingly wedging themselves between the long bypass blades; an ever-growing, endless amount of lawn to trim; and my right hand rapidly becoming cramped and tired – the latter probably a combination of child-sized hands and my child-sized lethargy.
Nowadays the twigs continue to jam, and the workload is just as endless – but my hands are bigger now, the yard is my own – and I willingly choose to do the work.
Plus I have finally learned to linger a while at the end of my toils, and appreciate the tiny (albeit impermanent) piece of landscape art that I have created – before scanning the area for my next horticultural challenge.

No comments: