The Thorny Side of Landscaping

Posted on April 25, 2012


Spring arrives in the rockery

I have just finished up another session of Spring clean-up in the garden, and I have the injuries and aches to prove it. Long ago I retired my Superwoman cape when it came to being a weekend yard warrior, yet I’m still determined to win the battle of woman versus perennial. You see, after a couple of years of yard projects being “on hold” , this Mrs. Procrastination has committed to finishing some rockery areas of the rear garden. (Truth be told, it’s part of a chain reaction of developments.) There actually is a vision for the completed areas in question, although I am criticized regularly that the garden will never be “done” since I’m always working on something back there. That is a trait I inherited from my late mom.

Although confined to a wheelchair for the second half of her life, her passion for plants never diminished. My sisters and I would often take her out on trips to the local nurseries where she would succumb to the whimpering tones of baby annuals and perennials looking for a new home. (It must be genetics at work, but all us siblings seem to also possess this specialized, sensitive hearing for lost and lonely plantlings.) Our mom had an ever-changing plan in her head for her tiny back yard plot, and we would provide the legwork and labour to fulfill her vision. The apples certainly didn’t fall too far away from that tree.

So now, Hubby and I face our landscaping hurdles with more mature bodies than 15 years ago when we first took on the initial development of our garden plan. And yes, we still adhere to frugality by trying to do the majority of the labour ourselves. Underperforming shrubs are being uprooted, others are given a much-needed pruning as a wake-up call. Where once there was green lawn, there will be new areas for relaxing and a utility/potting area. Access on slopes and pathways are again being addressed. Like our ol’ bodies, certain areas are getting a bit worn out and tired-looking – and facelifts of the plant kind cost a lot less than the plastic surgeon kind. Tylenol and hot baths for weary bones will become this season’s newest pre-dinner activity I think.

One of the thorny culprits

It is the season of bruised appendages and scratched arms, results of a wrestling match with a thorny rose bush or hauling a load of rocks for a project. Some of my lady friends who have already down-sized into condos and apartments, and have lovely manicured hands, shake their heads at me like I was a lunatic for spending so much time busying in the garden rather than travelling and the like. My reply to them is that I find the end result very rewarding and therapeutic, not unlike how earlier generations toiled on the land, building homesteads and establishing vegetable plots. A few scrapes and pokes from branches are simply signs that you are moving towards the completion of a dream. I like to imagine something honest and real (not necessarily seductive) about getting sweaty and covered in dirt. Gardening is hard work, but nourishes the soul. And besides, I can have nice-looking hands in the off-season.