Horticultural Disaster

Elly, in gardening gear, looks at her wilted daffodils in confusion.

Now that we have a house with a yard, my desire for a lush, green garden has fully bloomed. Weeds will be tamed, strawberries will ripen, and flowers will explode with color under my green thumb. My garden will be one of the natural wonders of the world! This will be so easy!

Occasionally, I get tired of how wrong I am, because in this case, I’m very wrong. I know nothing about plants, and even less about maintaining them. The fact that every house plant I’ve ever owned has died, should’ve been a clue. They were either over-watered to the point of drowning or forgotten until the leaves withered and turned to dust. Why did I think I could handle an entire yard? Look at this thorn-covered thingy here – is this an evil, invasive weed or the beginnings of a rose bush? Is there an actual adult around here who could help me out?

Dressed to kill in a floppy dollar-store hat, rhinestone sunglasses, and winter boots, I set out to accomplish my first task: mowing the lawn. The previous owners having focused their attentions elsewhere, the grass in the backyard was a healthy knee-high mixture of weeds, rocks, and forgotten toys. Undaunted, I started up the mower and got to work, pushing with all my might. My first impressions were as follows:

  • GOD, this thing is heavy. Why are my arms so weak? It’s like I did those three push-ups yesterday for nothing.
  • Did I just run over some Legos? An unfortunate elf?
  • I’m never doing this again. Molly is four years old – how long do I have to wait until SHE can mow the lawn?

After sweating and shoving the cranky second-hand mower around the yard for forty minutes, I’m happy to say that the grass was cut. The next task was to rake the clippings into bags, which would have been easier if I had a rake. I found a broom! I can do this! The bone-dry clippings and a slight breeze meant that more grass ended up in my mouth than in the bags, but I was determined. I was now a homeowner, and I was going to accomplish things. Two hours later, I was filled with a certain sense of pride; despite some bare patches and the scattered remains of an unfortunate Barbie doll, the lawn looked much better. I was done.

I was starting to see the garden take shape; a swing set could go in that corner, next to a rose bush. Maybe a bench could rest under that tall pine tree, with a vegetable garden in the corner. Possibilities are blooming as rapidly as the dandelions on the front lawn. It’ll take time, but I’ve got the rest of my life to get this done. Besides, eventually the chore of mowing the lawn will be passed down to the kids (I’ll have perfected my nagging by then), and I’ll have more time to figure out the difference between a blackberry bush and stinging nettle. Maybe one day, I’ll even feel like an actual adult, and I’ll get to yell out that classic grumpy old person phrase: “hey you kids! Get off my #@%* lawn!’”