I can die now

In the spring of 2006, when Matt first drove me past the house I am now sitting in, my first thought (honestly) was “Holy crap!  Look at the size of that garden bed!”  Between the roadside parking strip and the level front lawn was a sloped, gently curved, absolutely huuuuuge bed edged in large river rocks.  The landscaping in it (urine-scented conical conifers, weedy Sweet Williams, and two unkempt rhododendrons) was a bust.  But the bed was rife with potential. 506 square feet — more than half the square footage of the house itself!

With the help of friends, I yanked out all the unhappy, ugly little euonymous along the driveway and shoveled out yards and yards and yards of dyed-red pine chips from the beds against the house.  (The very thought of which makes my hands itch.  Man, those things gave you slivers when you looked at them wrong!) And I even managed, eventually, to rip out almost all of the thick black visqueen that the previous owners had lined the front bed with.  I guess they thought it was landscape fabric.  But it starved most of what they had planted and forced the hardier survivors to send roots out on top of the plastic, under the 6″ deep mulch layer.  It was a disaster all around.

And until this spring I never did manage to get the bid front bed under control.  There were weddings, surgeries, employment nightmares . . . and the project just got more and more daunting as the weeds grew thicker, taller, and more aggressive.

This year I was out of excuses and not in the mood to make any more.  My surgery was in 2007.  I quit smoking 3 or 4 years ago.  I have no job outside the home.  I have no good reason not to weed that damn flowerbed.

So I did.

Matt helped . . . in his way.  He used the front bed as a testing ground for Candy, his “new” old backhoe.

Candy’s little bucket scooped through 6 years of neglect like butter.
On the left: the results of Matt’s “weeding” with Candy.  On the right: the results of my hand, hoe, and shovel weeding.

Every day that it wasn’t raining and I wasn’t in the woods with Matt (save one day to visit with my folks) I was out there from breakfast to lunch — and often, later — shoveling, hoeing, pruning, and yanking.  My joints feel like they’re full of hot rust.  My sciatica makes my eyes pop out of my head every time I bend over.  I have blisters on my pinkie fingers, even.  But I’m so happy.

Yesterday morning I officially pulled the very last weed.  Matt and I met in town for lunch and it was all I could talk about.  He was hauling gravel and sand all day so he said that, since it was literally on the way home, he might swing by the pit and get me a load of screened fill to level off the big depressions where the weird scallops used to be.  He did — but what he showed up with was actually some very nice topsoil.  As soon as I started spreading that stuff people started coming out of their houses to watch.  (And not just because I’m a dab hand with a shovel.)  People slowed down as they drove by, and rolled down their windows to call out “It looks beautiful!”

To my credit, I replied generously with “Thank you!” and “It sure does!” instead of my internal dialogue of “Suck it, bitches!  My garden kicks ass!”

And now, what you have so patiently waited for: the pictures.

BEFORE: 2006, just after we moved in.
AFTER: Yesterday morning.
AFTER THAT: This morning, with all the lovely topsoil spread.

And now, what I have so patiently waited for: my first trip to The Plant Farm to start filling in all the empty space I’ve created!

— Amanda

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