I have been gardening…and weeding…and raking…and shovelling…and bending…and kneeling…and pulling…and pushing…and I think I broke myself. Ohhhhhh myyyyyy. You know that feeling when you have to answer the call of Mother Nature and it is ALL you can do to sit? Yeah, that’s me. My thought process went something like this… “Oh no, I have to use the bathroom. I have to sit; slowly, slowly… OH MY DOG THAT HURTS…there, seated. Oh my…Oh crap, now I have to get up. Well, do I? Do I really have to get up? Could I just sit here all day? No, I can’t. I think I’m stiff now, it will only get worse. I must move. Besides, the dog is staring at me. (No privacy anymore, much like when I had small children). Here we go, I can do this…slowly, slowly…OH MY DOG THAT HURTS. I’m up, I’m up. I just won’t drink or eat today.” And so goes the ‘Days of Our Gardening’.
We purchased our home a year ago and have been doing some major yard maintenance. The back yard is deck, patio, and half a mountain. There is no lawn in the back, much to my husband’s delight. The back area beyond the deck and patio, has 4 to 5 staggered terraces and the rest of the property slopes upwards, which makes simply walking a challenge, let alone tending the trees and bushes, or weeding. The front yard has 2 flowerbeds…with no flowers, just trees, and the east side yard has 1 flowerbed as well as a retaining wall between us and the neighbors with a small bed running the length of the wall. Everything, front, back, and sides were so overgrown it was crazy. We hauled 14 truck loads to the dump; 2 may have been garbage, and the rest was yard waste. Not a word of a lie. Also scattered around were stumps, and rocks, and more stumps, and more rocks. We were able to give most of the stumps away to a co-worker of Wards, for fire pit purposes. The previous owners were an elderly couple, who found the yard too much for them, and later a middle-aged gentleman purchased the property, but had not made much headway in the yard. We cut out more bushes, and trees (don’t worry we saved quite a few, these were ones deemed beyond help), just to be able to walk through it. It was quite a haven for wildlife: deer, racoons, and yes…rats. Below is a few pictures of the ‘before’.
Our first year concentrated on cleaning the front, back and sides out. I thought I would be able to get some seeds in the ground and basically let the back go ‘wild’ with flowers, with paths throughout to tend things. However, I discovered that someone, sometime had laid landscape fabric down and then put dirt on top. Not good. I did begin ripping out the landscape fabric but only finished 1 small area, about 1/8 of the back and then the rains came. This spring I was ready to go again but it would not stop raining, and I only completed a few small sections. Now the plants are coming up and I really don’t want to rip them out with the fabric, so I will wait until they die back and finish landscape fabric removal this fall. The remainder of the year was spent simply keeping the weeds out! A big process…and learning what were weeds…and what were not…there was mostly weeds, invasive weeds. A nasty bind weed which looks very similar to morning glories, buttercups, lamium, knotweed and another I can’t find the name of but it’s nasty. It looks similar to an elephant ear, or a taro plant…with an unbelievable tap root. On the upside, we found we have native Bleeding Hearts, a hosta, tiger lilies, day lilies, daffodils, tulips (a few), trillium, primula, heuchera, and crocuses. Besides all the cedars, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, Japanese lily trees, etc. And now the ‘after’ pictures. Our Walnut Trees in the back have not leafed yet, or all the hydrangeas…it really will be fuller than it currently looks.
Another project completed last year was the removal of rocks from the front (scattered hither and yon) to the back yard…over 100 rocks. The back slope has a partial rock wall that we want to continue across the back to control erosion. The drawback to the rocks was I have moved them 3 times…and will have to move them one more time to complete the wall. I moved them to our back ‘ledge’ on the south side of the house, rather than carrying them down and around to the north side and up the steps, across the patio, and up the steps again…you get the idea. Once I got them to the ledge, I left them there until this year. This spring when Ward’s mom was here I lifted them to the first and second tier. A few weeks later, I lifted them again to the third and fourth tier. Yes…I’m stubborn…but I’m building arm muscles! 😊
This year’s first real project was to tackle the front flowerbed that sits in a sloped area in the middle of the lawn; one of 2 flowerbed areas that we have in the front. This bed has some trees and bushes, and is covered in black bark, which looks quite lovely, but the previous owner had simply laid down house wrap, or deck wrap and put bark on top. We watched the plastic flap around all winter and the bark slide off. It took me 3 hours to remove the bark and plastic but it looked much better. A week later, I went to shape and prep the bed a little better and I discovered chicken wire. Ward was outside as well and offered to help as I couldn’t seem to budge it. It was then that we discovered 2 layers of landscape fabric with dirt in between, and a layer of chicken wire! Oh my dog. 2 hour later and we were done. What…a…job.
However, now I had an actual prepared bed. I was so excited! I was busy checking the weather, waiting for a break in the rain, and then it happened. Good Friday and Saturday, I went shopping for plants…101 plants in fact. And I started putting them in on Easter Sunday…after church! 😊
After planting 101 plants, ripping out landscape fabric that was covered with 2 to 6 inches of dirt, and held in with weeds, and thus the roots of weeds, shovelling dirt for walking paths, moving rocks and weeding, I…am…done. Done with being physically able to move. This past Sunday I thought if I finished weeding it would help the stiffness…it didn’t. It was worse, and worse again Monday. I hobbled wherever I went. I could hardly go up and down the stairs, bending was a challenge, sitting…well, we already covered that. My tailbone was yelling at me, my sciatica screaming, my hip was out…I was a mess. I have been stretching and doing yoga, and a bit of massage, and ice, and it is just not helping.
Why, why, do I do this to myself? I think that I’m 30…I’m not…I’m 23 years past being 30. I’m kind of a stubborn little goat, and when I get an idea in my head, or a project started, it’s very difficult for me to stop at a reasonable point and continue another day. It’s just because I’ve always done that, and think that I still can. I do tend to be an all or none person though, and impatient. Heaven forbid if I had to wait for someone to help me. Oh brother. And now I’m paying for it.
I was thinking today, “it is gorgeous outside and I can’t enjoy it because I can’t move!!!” I love ‘playing’ in my yard, however, since most of ‘playing’ involves some sort of physical labour I need to get better, and so I made an appointment to see the Chiropractor. What a lovely man. I am definitely feeling some immediate relief; my bum bones, my sciatica and my tailbone have backed off and even sitting is remarkably better! 😉 I had to explain to the Dr. how I originally injured my tailbone…20+ years ago. I said to him, “It’s a bit of a red-neck story…I was painting the barn…standing on a 5’ step ladder…that was in the bucket of a front-end loader…and I fell off”. Not good. I plan to be a bit cautious this next while to heal completely before I return to my labour of love, gardening.
I did go for a walk after the Chiropractor and enjoyed the beautiful day and the fact that I could actually move without wincing. I am such a project driven person, thinking I must always be doing something ‘productive’ that times like this are good for me. It makes me appreciate the simple things in life like a sunny day, being able to move and not cry, and rest in the fact that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will our yard be. In fact, it will still be there tomorrow, and this summer, and next spring. One day at a time, Sandra, one day at a time.
‘Just A Little Something’ painful I wanted to share with you. 😉