Gardening Ad Hoc

I spent the better part of my afternoon today doing yard maintenance. I realize that yard maintenance sounds rather ordinary and boring, but I assure you, it was anything but. Looking back, I really think my outfit set the tone for the whole day. Black and yellow man-sized knee pads strapped onto black pants that were tucked into calf length rubber gardening boots, a t-shirt, and wisps of hair escaping a cinched up black hoodie with bright green gardening gloves capping the sleeves doesn’t scream sexy. Maybe some people are into that, but I was just into staying dry for the rain that never showed up.



I had only planned on spreading some compost courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo over the patch of earth I reclaimed from the stubborn ivy the day before. And then my adult ADD kicked in. It’s not the first time it’s happened outside and it frequently happens to me when I’m cleaning house. Picking up the living room, I return a glass to the kitchen, forget about the living room and start doing dishes until I take a dirty dishtowel to the washer and then start washing clothes. One intended task in a very specific location today turned into all over yard maintenance. It happens.

I began by grabbing my construction orange Home Depot bucket I shoved the doo into last fall and headed down the hill setting the heavy thing down every few feet. I brought my rusty rake with me but realized I need a shovel to get the compost out. So I climbed back up the hill passing our giant, scraggly rhododendrons and made a mental note that they could use a hair cut. I brought back down a shovel, my loppers, and my fancy hand pruners in case I needed to do some delicate work. Thinking ahead.

I scooped out the doo, raked it into the existing soil and then stabbed the shovel into a mound of compost left by a previous owner. I probed around and tried to scoop it, but it seems a bit clumpy. I’ll check it out again later. I returned the shovel to the bucket and rake and then turned my attention to the rhododendrons.

This quickly turned into pulling downed branches of fir trees out of rhodies and the surrounding Japanese maples. The tall ones, not my potted dwarf varieties. Stick clean up turned into a discovery of a holly bush growing behind and into one of the rhodies. I took the loppers to the part of the holly growing into the bush and then stood there for several minutes contemplating the fate of the rest of it. I left it alone and moved on to removing dead rhodie branches with my loppers.

It turns out that branches that look dead are often interwoven with other branches and it’s very easy to make a cut and pull out a branch with leaves and a flower bud at the end. Not dead after all. Gardening casualties will hopefully become more avoidable in the future. Note to self, trace the “dead” branch to the end and check for signs of life before snipping.

Since I had the small pruners, I might as well trim up the dwarf Japanese maples on the upper level patio, right? Back up the hill I went and luckily didn’t snip off any living branches. Those little maples are not as hardy as I’d like and one small mistake could mean a permanent change. My success with them prompted me to tackle the thorn-less raspberry bush in the front yard that looked dead.

My pruners and I rounded the house to the front yard. The bountiful weeds all but smacked me in the face as I headed to the raspberry bush. Oh I’d get those little bastards. Back to the garage for the weeding tool that Santa stuck in my stocking this past Christmas. Shoot. Need a bucket for the weeds. Down to the lower yard to retrieve the orange bucket. Bucket in hand, weeder in the other and pruners shoved in my pocket, I returned to the front yard. Raspberry first. Wait, those lavender bushes have been looking scraggly forever! Snip-snip. Oh look a weed! Stab, twist, pull, and toss in bucket. Snip-snip. Weeds. Bucket.

“You are the sunshine of my life,” sang Stevie Wonder in my ear buds. I began to sing along. My iPhone was stuffed into my other pocket and sealed in a zip lock bag. One never knows when it might downpour in the PNW. It’s best just to count on it. The music shuffled and Madonna’s True Blue filled my ears. “But I never knew love before, ‘till you walked through my door,” I sang quietly (I think) to the plants. No neighbors about and if I can’t see them, then they can’t hear me, right? My head started bobbing, shoulders shimmying, and my knees and hips joined the party…Knees! Kneepads. Soon I was dancing on my knees as I hunted weeds and plucked them. I think I will always use kneepads for weeding in the future. Who has time to constantly pick up, move, and set a pad down anyways?

I finally made my way to the raspberry bush and snipped until I found green. It was alive, but barely and no signs of leaves. A new shoot was just breaking the soil surface so at least there was some promise. I bought it in the fall and have yet to taste its fruit-Oh look! More weeds! And…why is there a hole under our fence between the front yard and back yard? We don’t have a dog. Our cats are indoor only. I’ve seen gigantic squirrels, but they run along the top of the fence. Possible Hmm…maybe I’ll ask the husband to investigate this one. I retrieved my iPhone from my pocket and snapped a photo to show him later. It’s a garden mystery for sure. I kept eyeing that hole while weeding on my hands and knees around it. I half expected a rodent to run out towards my face! The guilty party thankfully didn’t show itself though.


I made my way around the yard, humming and bopping, kneeling, reaching, and dragging that bucket along with me all the while. And then I noticed tulip tips breaching the beauty bark. So I had to stop and examine them, count them, and say a prayer that frost wouldn’t come and kill them. Seemed like a good time to walk around the yard and see what else was waking up. Buds almost ready to bloom on our flowering quince, crocus and allium sprouts, buds on tree branches. But there were still more weeds. So I continued on and only threw up the proverbial white flag once the bucket was full.

I dumped the weeds on top of the discarded ivy in the yard waste bin. I spent the next few minutes collecting tools from all areas of our yard and returning them to their proper places in the garage. And now I’m going to go check the garage to make sure I didn’t forget the rusty rake. Still there. Phew!

Now I sit back, sipping a glass of wine wondering just what the hell happened. I’ve accepted the fact that I happened today. I happened. Cheers!






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