Gardening has never been my thing. I love bright flowers blooming all summer long, I buy them in the spring and put them in the ground & pots, easy-peasy! But this new old house we’re living in now has flower beds all along the fence lines. 96 feet of beds; mostly it’s overgrown groundcover ~ greens and ivy. There are a few peony plants, daffodils and tulips that pop up here and there and I believe I remember a hosta from last year. Since I don’t like to garden I had decided to leave well enough alone, grateful for a few perennials amongst the tangles of green; until a few weeks ago when it all looked very overgrown and reckless.
Insert a sunny 70 degree day and a spark of initiative; I boldly decided I would clear the ground around the peonies and tulips, giving them room to breathe and stand out. I ended up working over two hours ~ on a portion of ground spanning one section of fence. I didn’t enjoy it. It was quite the work for six feet. (Later that day my neighbor told me she had not seen anyone work in those flower beds for the 16 years she’s lived here ~ that explains a lot!)
The next day I decided to tackle another section ~ back breaking work, plus after I was done yanking, pulling and digging I had to clean up of the piles of debris I had pulled out! Not my thing. I’m impatient and don’t like tedious work, case in point, a few weeks ago I weeded the garden that’s in good shape along our driveway. (Due to Kevin’s back breaking work last year!) I pulled out the weeds leaving them in the driveway for him to clean up. I’m not proud of that. My thought was I had a tub to scrub and a bathroom floor inside to clean, and he usually does all the outside work, so really I was helping him! I even had the nerve to tell him that! (Sometimes he must look up and say “Really God, this was your best for me?!!”)
The sections I had tended to along the fence were now standing out from the neglect. Motivated, I tackled a third section, not fun. But on Monday I did one more section and that’s when everything began to turn. By now I had learned pulling out the ivy was different from digging out the other green groundcover plant. I also noticed all that ivy seemed to have slithered over from my neighbor’s garden just on the other side of the fence.
As I worked the ground in the sun that day I thought a lot about how often our lives are similar to this gardening situation.
It looks good but is it what I wanted?
Because of our proximity, what my neighbor intentionally put on her side of the fence, unintentionally became a part of my side of the fence. Two years ago at first glance I thought it was OK, in fact helpful as I didn’t have to do the work of cultivating my own garden; my ground just absorbed what was hers. But as I pulled back the vines I could see they were choking what had at one time been intentionally been planted in my garden. Although it was easy to let this groundcover take over, it wasn’t what I wanted, it didn’t really reflect me.
Getting to the root of it can be complicated.
By the fourth day I discovered a deep respect for root systems. I learned before pulling the root if I gently moved the soil away, exposing more and more of the root, more often than not I could remove the entire root. Though the longer the plant had been there the more connected its roots were to other vines with more roots, creating intricate systems of connection. It’s impressive what lies beneath the surface. Sometimes I just couldn’t get to the bottom of the root and it would break off. As I heard the snap I knew that one might stay below the ground and look OK for awhile, but sooner or later that unwanted plant will resurface. I’m realizing once we decide to clean something up, it doesn’t necessarily mean we get rid of all the undesirables below the surface at first swipe, it’s more of a process.
It’s also clear that learning about separating bulbs and pruning plants is on my list. Some of the plants I want to keep are overcrowded and blooming sparsely, even a novice like me can see that a little separation will allow the tulips to become more healthy. Pruning the daisy plant will help its overall health, a website tells me, and allow it to put its energy into new growth. Hmmmmm….sometimes even good things need pruning to make way for growth.
There’s a small tree in the corner by the garage that is growing out at an angle. It’s clear a support and twine would go a long to help this sapling go in its intended direction.
The hard work is worth it.
I’ve put ten hours in thus far and have many more to go, I thought I would hate every minute of it but I don’t. I’m happy with the result and find myself excited and proud of work I’ve done. Similar to life, what sometimes feels like a tangled mess can become something beautiful with pulling, pruning and getting to the root of that which you really didn’t want planted in the first place.