Gardening My Way

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 11:21 PM | 3 comments »

My grandmother loved gardening. She’d work in the yard from daylight until dark. She loved flowers and could root the most delicate rose in a pot of red Georgia clay simply by sticking a stem into wet mud. Then, hoe in hand, as she chopped away at weed in her garden she was a snake’s worst nightmare. Born in 1896, Ma Ma was at once both a genteel Southern belle and a hearty farmer’s wife. She once shot a chicken hawk off her favorite bantam hen with a single shot. She cooked for field hands on the dairy and she tended her flowers.
I inherited Ma Ma’s love of flowers. I love admiring them, picking them for bouquets and choosing them for my garden. That’s where our similarities end. I hate getting hot and sweaty and my hands have never fit the handle of a hoe. I just can’t make myself get up and go outside at the crack of dawn to work in the yard.
If you thought you were going to get really great gardening advice, take heart. I do have some to give you. Hire someone to do the grunt work. That’s what I do. I reserve the fun part for myself. I shop for the annuals and choose the perennials for my flower garden, and then I hire someone to plant them for me. Although sometimes not very successfully.
Once three teenage boys came by my house and offered to do yard work for spending money. It was a Saturday morning and they wanted to go the movies. I agreed to pay them to weed the small flowerbed at the edge of the driveway and they set to work pulling out the over-grown weeds. The next thing I knew, they’d disturbed a yellow-jacket nest and were running for their lives. I retreated to the kitchen to avoid the angry bees while the boys left by way of the back fence, jumping rather than climbing it. They never returned to finish the job; I guess they found another way to earn their spending money for the weekend.
I hired my brother-in-law to do the shrubs and flowerbeds. His solution was to chop everything down saying, “don’t to worry, it’ll grow back.” He was right. The messy, invasive stuff grew back in profusion, while the more delicate and valuable bushes gave up the ghost.
Recently, while admiring a friend’s newly landscaped yard, I remarked that I wish I had someone to keep up my yard and she graciously gave me the name of the man who did her work. I called and made an appointment for him to come by. We walked the yard together, and I showed him exactly what I wanted done. He gave me a very fair price, and I gave him the go ahead to clean the flowerbeds. Apparently he knows my brother-in-law because when I got home from school, the entire front flowerbed had been leveled. Gone were the dogwoods and azaleas. The only thing remaining was invasive ivy, the plant that created the problem in the first place. I’m considering concrete and plastic flowers.


  1. Beth Trissel // September 29, 2007 at 8:40 AM  

    Oh, Melba, this is priceless! As a much frustrated gardener, I highly sympathize. We live on a farm and stray cows make the worst landscaping 'improvements.' My best gardening assistant, daughter Elise, is a freshman in college.
    The garden(s) sadly miss her and so do I. But she's visiting today. :)

  2. Melba // September 29, 2007 at 9:55 AM  

    Thanks for your kind words. I too grew up on a farm and the cows, goats and chickens did most of the yard work. Guess that might be one reason I didn't follow in Ma Ma's footsteps. Enjoy your daughter's visit. I'm spending the weekend in Atlanta at GRW's Moonlight & Magnolia's Conference. It's been great thus far. Wish everyone could be lucky enough to attend.


  3. Mary Marvella // September 30, 2007 at 8:42 PM  

    You did it! You rock! Poison Ivy keeps me from doing much gardening I can't do with pots and planners.