Monday, May 19, 2008
For Mother's Day, Q received a rake and hoe. Since working in the yard is something he does primarily with me. These are metal and effective and now he has better gardening tools than I do. I have to bargain with him, trading the use of the hoe for the rake. They may be child sized, but let's face it, I'm not that tall, and most of my gardening is small scale.
I'm attempting to keep the yard respectable this summer. We laid good groundwork for this last fall by finally digging out a tremendous number of weeds (I believe much of this work was done after the growing season was over) and mulching around the plants we hoped were deliberate plantings. Now if I am vigilant and attempt to weed several days each week, I hope I might keep the garden beds attractive.
I've taken to hanging out in the yard with the kids trying to weed to this end. This works better some days than others. If Noodle is satisfied with hanging out in the wagon with a toy, and if Q is satisfied with remaining in our yard, I can actually get quite a bit of work done. Sometimes the kids even cooperate together, Q pulling Noodle in the wagon, to her obvious and touching delight. In various sessions in the past two weeks, with assistance from J, we have created a new bed (mulched even!) for day lilies in our side yard where we'll appreciate it every time we come home. J took it into his head to actually whack off all the dead branches on the shrubs on the same side yard. I kept thinking, 'Wait, we can *do* that?' They look much better. A little strange in bits, but so much less, well, dead.
Yesterday I hacked apart an already leafed hosta. I'd generally recommend dividing hostas in the spring or fall the way you're supposed to. However we have Very Large hostas that are massing in a plot to take over Rhode Island. My experience in the past four years with this yard is that I simply cannot insult the hostas enough to kill one. It's amazingly difficult to divide them in the first place. I hop up and down on the shovel attempting to break the root mass. I dig all around the entire plant, then remove the dirt from underneath it, hoping to surprise it with a sneak attack. Once I manage to crack off (and it sounds like I'm bursting open a melon) a chunk, I simply drop it in a shallow grave, pat the sides gently with loose dirt, water them once or twice until I forget (make that once) and the next spring I have a new hosta hedge. So I'm taking a mild risk by hacking off chunks of a heretofore neglected hosta (they like to be divided I'm told, and this one was crowded and attempting to smother the local perennials). I managed to get three good sized hosta chunks for replanting on the dark side of the rhododendron and I'll hope that they will take over and remove any lasting guilt I have for neglecting that corner of the yard. It's probably over run with dogs hitting the lightpole anyways.
Today I continued my assorted crusades and Q continued to assist. One of his favorite tasks is to run around the yard, pulling up small red seedlings from the Norwegian Maple and bring each individually to my attention, "Look Mommy! I found a baby tree!" There are thousands in the lawn and garden beds, so we may have located our summer entertainment. He has learned the name of a few plants (hostas and skunk cabbage, which sadly look identical to the naive eye, forsythias, dandelions). Today he brought me a spring of a flower plant. "What is is this called Mommy?" I don't know this one. He solved the problem, "I call it fermangia!"