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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Gardener's Diary Archive: The Great Time Suck, June 17, 2015

There's lots of online references for what to do if you have the gardener's blues in winter.

After all there's little to do in winter, especially once the leaves are raked up. Go down to the cellar, maybe, and recount the root vegetables laid up.

Summer? That's a different animal.

Several things contribute to mine.

One- the big one- is that, in fact, I have too much time to garden.

Business is really slow. Nobody's buying over at Henry Bemis Books.

So I look for ways to keep occupied, and my mind off the serried ranks of troubles I can see coming from not making much of a living. So I head outside.

For a while, at least. Lately, it's been 80F when I got to bed and much the same when I get up; by 1:00 pm it's reliably 100 in the shade.

Not that much one can do in that sort of weather, and I'm not of the age for showing off. So I do 90 minutes to two hours, then come back in, cool off, and get back to work trying to figure out new ways to flog books.

When I am out there, though, I enjoy the work. Monday I liberated two of my neighbor's gardenias, long under siege by adjoining azaleas and volunteer trash trees growing up from their centers from seeds left behind by birds. The more crowded everything gets, of course, the more frantic and outreaching the plants get for sunlight. Long, branches with little outbreaks of leave three or four feet from the trunk are the result.

The gardenias are each about six feet tall, and easily three times that in diameter.  All I could do was pick a spot and start cutting inward, pulling out a layer of interwoven junk until I finally got to where I could start sawing out the trunks of the interlopers.

All that I got done Monday- about 15 trees, a few inches in diameter, up to ten feet tall. I piled them up and went home to sit in the semicool of my den.

Yesterday, my saw's batteries charged, I cut all the limbs off the trees taken out Monday, and cut up as much as the batteries would allow to fit the size the city mandates for pickup on Friday afternoons. That left a pile of tent poles, and I left them to retreat to my cool place.

Today, I finished the job, sawing the trunks up into three to five lengths. Everything got hauled out to the street. One of the gardenias looks pretty hollowed out- a perimeter of growth around an empty core- but this is no time for trying to shape or prune. That'll be next spring's work. The other did better: the trees in it shot straight up to spread over it. It's right presentable.

One nice thing about working in gardenias is that while you may be sweating like a Spartan galley slave crew trying to get past the Athenian anchorage at Samos in a Peloponnesian heartbeat, but all you smell is the fragrance of the blooms.

Today, after the trunks got cut up, I tackled a little circular planting area once offering pride of place to a bird bath. That got carried off last winter, when my neighbor, who had kind of let things go outdoors after her parents died some years ago, brought in a tree faller whose specialty is leveling everything vertical in sight. He got a lot of overgrowth cleared out, and left stumps everywhere that, in this climate, have been vigorously re-asserting themselves through new growth.

I'm trying to keep the junk stuff down so the bulbs and perennials can re-establish themselves. Maybe before long I can run another bird bath to ground. Now it has a big clay pot with some cutting I got from another neighbor, a bush with cucumber green leaves and yellow, streaky spots. It grows pretty well and my neighbor told me all I needed to do was stick them in a pot and water them. I did, with four cuttings. Three died over the spring; I suspect some root hormone would have improved their prospects, but until some book sales improve mine, that's a luxury item.

The one survivor is settling in and putting out new growth so, all in all, the planting circle- at the back of the driveway, a sort of point to the exclamation mark- looks pretty decent.

My one completely new undertaking this week came via a Facebook post a friend put up:


I saw that and thought, I can do that. And 45 minutes later, I had. It frees up space, and looks better than my old twiggery, if not as anally-retentively stacked as this one.

Enough bragging for this day. I need to email some more book catalogues. 

More, I hope, tomorrow.


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