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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nearer to God in a garden

“The kiss of the sun for pardon
The song of the birds for mirth
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on Earth.” ~ Dorothy Frances Gurney

I’ve been dying to get my hands on that garden. Well, perennial flowerbeds, really. They are overgrown with wild grape and morning glory vines and violets. Sounds lovely but they are choking out my daylilies, hostas, sedum and chrysanthemum.
I imagined the best way to go about it would be to hack at the earth around each perennial plant, chopping it up so I can gain access to the weed roots, which I would pull out. Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful and I set to work. The first attempt to insert a shovel failed, as the soil was so hard-packed, nothing was giving. I decided if I couldn’t dig up the weeds, I would smother them – with manure.
I took my little plastic wheelbarrow to the manure pile and filled it with rich black loam. Composted manure just turns into beautiful dark soil and makes a great mix for topsoil. If you put too much on it is quite acidic and can burn your plants, as I have discovered in the past. I figured this would be a good method of weed extermination.
When the Farmer came home and saw me struggling to move a heavy wheelbarrow that was literally buckling under the weight of all that composted poop, he said, “dump it.”
I have learned to be patient with my husband. He uses words sparingly, preferring to communicate telepathically. I have not yet learned how to receive these unspoken messages, however, so if I wait I find I get another word or two.
“I’ll bring you a bucket,” he said, and motioned for me to slide the barn door open.
Oy vay. Here I am delicately sifting composted manure around and through my beloved plants. He wants to drop a front loader bucket onto them.
In his defence, the plan was for me to stand in the garden and pull the manure off the bucket with my shovel. The problem is the bucket on that ancient one-eyed broken-down tractor keeps shaking up and down, and I was getting composted manure down my boots, the neckline of my shirt, in my hair and eyes. I stood back and let him dump it.
I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to uncover my plants.
Oh well. Last year they were so prolific they were choking each other out. This year, the little tips of each plant will have to prove their tenacity.
Next, realizing I had about one hour of gardening left before my back and hamstrings gave out, I brought out the bag of bulbs I received for my birthday. Twenty-four burgundy and white glads to line the stone wall and stand in the sun beside the playhouse. I can’t wait to see them grow, and cut them down for the Sunday dinner table. Again, we’ll see if they survive the copious amounts of acidic manure.
By 5pm my back was broken and I was done, with a feeling of real accomplishment. Contributing to my dorsal discomfort was the fact that I had washed a very filthy dog that morning as well. Cody decided he didn’t like my last column about his 100-year-old wobbly legs, and when his chain broke on Wednesday he decided to set off down the road to see just how far they would carry him. He is a pup at heart, but I’m sure he had to have a few naps along the way down the road, past the intersection and into the ditch about 2 kilometres away where he collapsed in a culvert, looking for a drink of water. That is where Mr. Neuendorff found him. Lucky for Cody, Mr. N. and his wife are big dog lovers. They took him home, fed him and loved him up until we eventually found each other again.
You’re only as old as you feel, I guess. After that day of gardening, I reckon I feel just about as old as that dog. I can’t stand up straight.
A Robaxacet for me and a dog biscuit for Cody and all is right with the world. Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Neuendorff, for your extreme kindness.

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