Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Man Versus Nature

Firstly, I am not going to complain about hurting my back while gardening because I realize every single time I write about picking up anything heftier than a trowel, I wind up whinging about the connection between my yard and my bad back. See? Not complaining. Lips sealed. A martyr.

So let us instead contemplate the rather straggly nature of the pots in mrpeenee's patio. Have I been just the teensiest bit slack in maintaining them? Mmmmmmmaybe, but in my defense the rainy season here in San Francisco is now three months late and the digging up and trasnplanting of the many plants that I have put in the wrong places over the years is best done when said plants are dormant and the ground is wet enough to work without a jackhammer. During a rainy wet season, in other words which is so not happening this year. I blame George Bush. Both of them.

Since it rained last night (amazing!) I was out this afternoon to move a tiny bedraggled datura. It seemed simple enough, it always does. But the pot I wanted to move the datura to had a bunch of calla lilies I didn't want to waste, the spot where I wanted to transplate the callas was behind a heliotrope that's needed pruning which had to be cut back to make room for the lilies. It's like horticulture in a row of dominoes.
Calla lilies in the wrong place.

The world's straggliest heliotrope, desperate for a trim and a shave. With Farrah Fawcett bangs, maybe.

Did I triumph? Darling, of course. Did I lose my balance up in the bed behind the heliotrope and fall over on the other calla lilies I had been trying to protect during this move? Oh yeah, smashed those bitches flat to the ground. But they're tough, they'll be back.

Here's the trouble with gardening before and after pictures: unlike rearranging furniture, plants take weeks or even years to establish and get to be the size you're shooting for. Inevitably after one of these brutal struggles with nature, I step back and look at the pathetic runt I have so tenderly moved and think "I certainly hope I live long enough for this fucker to be worth all this."

Someday, this pitiful stick will be a tree seven feet tall with lemon yellow and chartreuse variegated leaves and huge salmon pink trumpet flowers. Trust me.


  1. Needless to say, it's been grey, cold, and snowy in Chicago, so I am loving this little glimpse of greenery.

    By the way, did you know that datura contains a hallucinogen and a deadly poison? So, graze at your own risk!

  2. We actually had winter these past few days.

    The seed catlogues have started arriving.

    But something could be happening at Casa D'Cookie this year and the idea of sinking too much money in a landscape for other people's benefits isn't high on my parade.

  3. Saki could totally finish that off. And will.

  4. "Inevitably after one of these brutal struggles with nature, I step back and look at the pathetic runt I have so tenderly moved and think "I certainly hope I live long enough for this fucker to be worth all this."

    This sounds a lot like teaching actually...including the back problems.

  5. Did you win the battle of the Scotch Broom?

  6. Speak not the name of the devil's bush. Scotch Broom is insidious, one doesn't win against it, one only ruins ones manicures uprooting them over and over again.

  7. Oh, the joys of gardening! Thankfully here at Dolores Delargo Towers the snow has only just melted leaving behind a black squishy mush of dead stuff but it is still too cold (my excuse!) to tackle it. So we look out on the valiant daffodils instead, and contemplate bad backs yet to come... Jx

  8. The whole field behind the diner is filled with hundreds of Datura, though I've only ever seen them dormant. I do wonder what the spring & summer will reveal up here on the blue ridge....

    By the way, I did one time make for myself Datura tea and lived to tell anyone that reads this: "DON'T DO IT!"

  9. Judicious use of a heating pad and ibuprofen should make sure you'll live to see the results of your work. . .and that your back will live to ache another day.

    Besides, what would you rather see in your yard every day: these plants growing into lovely, strong, gorgeous blossoming plants? Or the backwater, redneck, low-maintenance garden with a rusted-out Chevy on cinder blocks plus a motley assortment of bathroom fixtures, all planted with cheap Day-Glo petunias???

  10. i have been trying to get nature to stay alive here in the desert. what does not cook gets peed on by every dog in palm springs. i just tell people the stunted plants are bonsais. trailer folk are easy to fool.


In Which We Take a Trip

  I was reminded of the following story by this charming illustration I stumbled across on Tumblr.  It is a sheet of blotter acid from back ...