Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meanwhile, back at the ranch


The truth is, I said to a friend of mine, as we walked around my less-than-acreage, I used to be able to guide people away from the crap parts and over to some nice little spots. But now it all looks like crap, and don’t tell me otherwise.

I won’t, he said.

So what am I going to do about it? The current gardeners will do anything for me, anything except bend, stretch or reach. They’re gardeners in name only; they don’t even own gardening gloves. Yes, that should have been the tip off. That and their perfectly white and unblemished, uncalloused hands. My hands don’t look so bad either, given the amount I have to do in the yard, just maybe like I give them a good scrubbing with broken glass now and again, if I wash them at all.

My three horticulturalists prefer to get all their mileage out of the weedwacker, although that’s something else in name only. It’s a bushwacker, a lawnwacker, a treewacker, but it’s leaving the weeds very much to their own devices.

I asked The Fat One, the head of this landscape architecture firm, if he didn’t have a lawn mower. “What,” he said, looking rather puzzled. “You want me to mow the grass?” If you wouldn’t mind, I told him. He half shook his head to show the world he thought this very ill-advised, but anything to make me happy.

In addition to the weedwacker, they have a great fondness for the leaf blower. Not to blow the leaves out of the yard, just deeper into it. For awhile I thought they were actually collecting the leaves and putting them in the compost pile, as I didn’t see great piles hiding behind trees. But then, after the last rain when my French drain overflowed, I found their secret hiding place.

So I talked to The Fat One again, and asked that they blow leaves out of the beds, and most specifically not into the drain. “What,” he said, “Not in but out?” And this time he looked rather interested, as though I might actually have an idea. Perhaps not a particularly good idea, but one that hadn’t occurred to them before.

The only good thing is, with past gardeners, if I left my own tools lying around the yard they would surely disappear – rakes, clippers, shovels. Even a bag of fertilizer once. But with the current crop, if my stuff doesn’t blow or whack, then it simply can’t get mixed up with their stuff. They’d just as soon lift up my rake as build a second story on my house.

So next month, I’m going to do nothing, nothing but get this place back into shape again. I’m going to fire these gardeners, even though every set seems so much worse than whatever came before. So now I’m almost fascinated to consider what could possibly be next.

Maybe I’ll cut to the chase and hire the very worst one of all: me.

(Two new pieces over at Patch and Animal Magnetism.

42 comments:

  1. I am the fat one. Every morning (I did it again today) I walk onto my patio, look down at my backyard and say to myself, "time to whip this yard into shape." Then I go back to bed.

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  2. I have a million ideas on how to make my yard look better. Problem is, I hate to cut down trees - it's the redhead in me, hiding from the sun - and that's what needs doing. At least, for starters. So, that's why I just had 24 trees planted around the outside edge of the yard: to hide the mess.

    Oh, and Thor's area of the yard? I call it the "shit pit". At least I'm not seeing you calling your yard a "shit pit"!

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  3. Uh oh. French drain? I think we have one of those. Somewhere. Under all the pretty leaves.

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  4. I think I've got your tractor.

    --Fred, Former Gardener

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  5. I'm a bobblehead today, laughing and nodding my head in agreement as I read. Not about the state of your yard, which is full of life, but about the whackers and blowers that call themselves gardeners. Mine came with the house so I have to stay loyal, but in 10 years, he's managed to blow all the soil away. Good luck with your next lot.

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  6. Oh please.......you can't fire the three stooges.......think of all the blog fodder you'll miss out on.

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  7. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. If you're a dog, it might be a tasty meal. Your crap looks pretty good to me. We're rather deficient of it here in brown Arid-zona. I'd like to walk through yours and be refreshed. Be thankful for crap. Green that is.

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  8. Isn't it amazing how two people can approach the same problem and reach two very different conclusions about how to resolve it? I think your garden may be suffering but these guys are a treasure trove for writing material.

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  9. I know the bumbling makes for humor, but if your examples are factual, there's gotta be a meeting of the minds with these guys. Or, as you say, just a farewell.

    I also wonder how much yard care is necessary. We take long drives to get to natural beauty, yet no one's mowing and raking out there, or manicuring bushes into the shape of Elmer Fudd. I thought only the French did that (since you mention French drains) . . . . Who first had the idea of sculpting a bush? It's a bush!

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  10. Banjo, there is nothing frou-frou about my garden.

    Linda & Paula, fodder indeed. But they can't be the 3 stooges -- they'd need a ladder for that and they don't do ladders. To use one would require reaching or even lifting and that's out of the question.

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  11. "Snow or leaves" or "Leaves or snow".

    At least you don’t have to deal with the snow shovel as others next month.

    D.

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  12. Darn PA. I was going to say I was the fat one. At least she wants to whip things into shape, which seems to imply exertion. In my garden, I snore things into shape. Which actually sounds more fun than it is.

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  13. Margaret, nice line! On the other hand, snoring has worked all kinds of wonders for me. It's the passive-aggressive approach to manual labor, doncha think?

    AH, I'd never have pegged you for froo-froo. (sp?) I was just wondering out loud what I've wondered silently a few times.

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  14. Guys with big blowers.....hmmmm
    V

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  15. Yeah, all my gardeners do is blow leaves around for like an hour. And our yard isn't even that big.

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  16. After nearly 40 years of having a yard to take care of, I'm enjoying living in the forest where there is no lawn to mow or water, leaves to rake, or bushes/trees to trim and shape. I don't know what to do with the free time.

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  17. Hahaha I enjoyed your humorous take on gardening. So true!

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  18. Actually to tell you the truth; whatever I like, you know what I mean.

    {http://maristpoll.marist.edu/1214-whatever-retains-title-of-most-annoying-word-or-phrase/}

    D.

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  19. I stopped after PP2; our garden *is* broken glass! "Cracked" me up! I'll show you...well, you'll have to wait awhile.

    Time is relative, PA.

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  20. In this neighborhood, even the rodents 'break out'.

    WV: micete

    (insert cymbal crash here)

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  21. I guess it's a good thing after all that I didn't ask if I could sub-contract them to clear my gutters. Perhaps they are designed to be garden ornaments instead?

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  22. I'm back with Pierre. A green weed in Arid-zona is still live vegetation! Hmmm, maybe Pierre and I can team up and become your new gardeners. We'd nurture the weeds into trees!
    You always have me laughing, AH!

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  23. Maybe I should call the weeds "california natives" and stop worrying about them.

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  24. Karin - You should call the weeds "undocumented vegetation"

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  25. go over to San Marino and steal one of THEIR gardeners! You might have to take out a 2nd to pay for them, but they'll do the work!

    and...I REALLY think I'm in the wrong biz...weathermen and gardeners...call themselves such things and yet don't ACTUALLY do the work---or at least, properly--our weatherman has said rain all week EXCEPT yesterday and we nearly washed away during dinner last night---dunno what that non-rain was, but it was wet and cold!

    I think you need to borrow Susan, have her bring a walker or cane while you interview the next set...sympathy vote for the fractured hip set..."ya see boys, I can't get around the garden, so I need you to do a good job for me"...and see how long it lasts?

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  26. After a nice cry, I realized you could do worse: me. I could visit my sister in La Habra...

    I've been a migrant worker before, so this might work - just send plane fare. It'd be a nice change of climate for me, too.

    Will I have access to the liquor cabinet? If so, its a done deal.

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  27. Giggling all through this one!!! DB did most of the real gardening at our Glendale home...the gardeners were merely for mow and blow!!! My thumb is not at all green, as demonstrated by the many houseplants that have been recycled over the years!!! And Banjo...living in the mountains is the way to go...natural landscaping all the way!!!

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  28. I wish I had a garden I could ignore. As it stands right now, I'm ignoring the pots that sit empty on my newly reclaimed balcony. I did think about buying some bulbs. Does that count?

    P.S. I have a personal and enduring hatred of leaf blowers.

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  29. My undocumented vegetation is for real, blown in by hurricanes.

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  30. I'm taking this as another cautionary tale about Altadena home ownership, the other being your Patch article on sewers and trees. Funny but from my vantage point in escrow - scary! Yikes. What am I doing?!

    (Sorry, I ran through the financials today and I'm freaking out. I need a goddess. Time to visit Margaret's blog.)

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  31. Congratulations, Susan. Escrow is some weird shit, but you'll be ok. (And not one comment here is from Altadena, except mine, if that makes you feel any better. So the gardening thing -- it's universal.)

    WV: Taint. Taint so bad.

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  32. Oh god. I want to do the gardening myself.

    Then I don't.

    So yeah. Natives.

    Susan, which place did you get? I'm excited!

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. "Escrow is some weird shit, but you'll be ok." This is a direct quote from Stoebuck and Whitman, The Law of Property, Third Edition, West Legal Publishing.

    "Taint so bad." This is a direct quote from "Celeste" by Donovan. "Taint so bad, I'm just a lad, so many more things to do..."

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  35. This is so me, and thank you for the smiles!!!

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  36. I keep coming back to read comments...and laugh some more!

    and Susan...it'll be YOUR weeds to ignore. Take a deep breath...it'll be fine. breathe...really.

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  37. The state of my garden is squarely on my shoulders. And it shouldn't be. I hear cries of anguish every time I walk near some beds. The flowers shedding tears, the weeds giving each other high fives. But still I carry on pretending I make a difference.

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  38. get in the car and drive around your area looking at people's property. When you find some that look good and you see gardeners working on those yards, hire them to do yours! that's what we did!

    Of course, I've pledged to do no more yardwork in my life...

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  39. Just saw the comments in response to my escrow panic. Thanks for the support. Hiker's right: taint so bad.

    Gulp.

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