Spring is indeed a wonderful time of the year. Flowers bloom, trees leaf out, grass turns green (or often brown with too much sun and not enough rain in Southern Ontario). Everything seems new and fresh and bountiful. Bountiful is certainly an appropriate term for my yard.
In fact, it’s so bountiful that Gill specifically asked me to take pictures this year — pictures of what she calls my ‘crop circles’. My backyard used to be grass. Not any more. One year I made the mistake of planting a few innocent looking plants in the garden around my yard. They had beautiful pink and purple flowers in spring. I failed to ask about the plants and discovered, sort of to my horror years later, that they were extremely aggressive ground cover plants. They will not be confined by anything.(Come to think of it, much like my kids.) Each year, they(the plants, not the kids) put out new tentacles and soon burst the garden borders, spilling out every which way. So now my lawn is filled with pink and purple crop circles each spring. Don’t get me wrong — they look gorgeous. But they have taken over the grass, crowding it out until only a few robust blades remain. It’s good in that, when we have summer droughts, which we often do, the blades don’t die and turn brown. The circles remain green, don’t seem to require watering, and don’t really need to be mowed.
I fear that many of my neighbors think my lot looks ‘unkempt’. I have caught a few sideways glances and muttered comments. But I prefer to go with the reaction of one neighbor who gushes over my ‘naturalized’ lawn. “Oh, it’s beautiful,” she crows. “It reminds me of the lavender fields in France.” Well, whatever floats your boat, I say. I then pretend that my ‘naturalized’ yard was a carefully executed plan. In fact, it’s simply gardening run amok. I can pretend to be Martha Stewart with all her strategized planting, but nobody would ever buy it. My yard is random, as am I. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love it…but to pretend I had anything to do with it is, at least, disingenuous. What actually happened is that nature did what it does best and outmaneuvered me.
Back in the day,I tried to be an organic gardener, eschewing chemical poisons and fertilizers. That was until the ants showed up. For the past couple of years, I’ve had ant hills mysteriously sprout in the middle of my lawn. It was disgusting. I found a ‘homemade’ remedy that claimed to get rid of ants. It was equal parts sugar and borax. Fine. It was cheap and readily available. It worked, as Gill would say, ‘a treat’. No more ants. I did notice in passing that, not only were the ants gone, but so was a large patch of grass around the hill. The term ‘scorched earth’ sprang to mind. I later discovered that borax is extremely toxic and lethal. The ants certainly thought so. (Yes, I flunked chemistry.) But I continue to use it in dire situations.
My neighbor, who knows all about organic gardening, suggested sprinkling cinnamon around the garden to discourage ants. Problem was, I tried it and, although most of the ants were ‘discouraged’, they were only discouraged to go somewhere else…like into my back yard to make another ant hill. I didn’t want discouragement; I wanted the nuclear option. Dead, that’s what I wanted. (I also noted that some of them looked a lot like carpenter ants. I had visions of them taking down my entire wooden deck…than what would I do? The squirrels would have nowhere from which to launch themselves at the bird feeders to steal the seed.)
It was shortly after my toxic attack on the ants that I realized that I needed the ants to open the peony blossoms. Sigh…my bad.
I have eschewed my useless hand mower (a favorite of hippies everywhere) in favor of a battery-operated mower. It works better but I find I’m still the talk of the neighborhood when I, a 90-pound weakling, attempt to mow the side hill of my property. I have to push so hard I’m almost horizontal, looking much like, I assume, a modern day Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a never-ending hill. This spectacle was only outdone once, when Gill lived with me. She, wanting to help with household chores, volunteered to mow the lawn. She used the old hand mower. Adorned in ratty shorts, a wife beater t-shirt, a Vietnamese rice paddy hat, and flip-flops, she quickly found her hands getting blistered. She rushed inside, yelling:”Ma, have you got any garden gloves?”
Being a less-than-well equipped gardener, I told her sadly: “Nope. You’re out of luck. Improvise.”
In true Gill fashion, she did. I rather expected she might use an old pair of winter gloves. No. Not my Gill. She donned and completed her outfit with panache using my gaudy, flowered oven mitts. I think she put Sisyphus to shame.
Occasionally I hear the odd person remark on my renegade clump of daisies, the ones that popped up unexpectedly on my boulevard. They ask, snooty nose in the air: “Who puts a clump of daisies in the grass like that? That’s just weird…”, I have a suitable retort ready. It goes something like this: “First of all, I didn’t PUT them there. They just grew. Secondly, I think they look pretty, whimsical,unexpected.Third, if you don’t like my daisies or crop circles, I’ll send Gill out in her oven mitts and rice paddy hat…then you’ll be sorry!”
They shut up quickly, leaving me to enjoy my non-Martha Stewart landscaping.