Home & Design

Green Acre #381: Cleanup Needed in Aisle 6!

This is supposed to be a garden. Perhaps it will be soon again. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

By Stephanie Cavanaugh


This is not how my garden is supposed to look at the tail end of spring. 

The pebble path from the porch to the garage should be meandering like a streambed past the hydrangeas. Parlor palms should be flanking the garage door, not sitting under the tree, blocking the light from the clematis—which I doubt we’ll see in flower this year. 

The trompled* mess on the right is the remains of the magnificent tulips; they really were something this spring. The planter in their midst should be sprightly with . . . something. More mashed tulips are on the path’s left, though you can’t see them behind the piles of . . .

My Prince has made a mess. A child’s desk, a sorry-looking tabletop, pots and saucers, a trash lamp, bags and bags of mulch. There’s a bike carcass beneath the stairs, where the pots and saucers are supposed to go. My camera lens isn’t wide enough to capture the quaint display of ladders propped against the wall. I could break a leg getting to my potting area under the back porch.

This is the dreck I must clamber over to attempt to garden. My mood shifts through the day from hopeful, to frustrated, to furious. I want to plant the elephant ears, the coleus, the caladium, and the tropicals I’ve nursed through the winter. The geraniums need moving, the fern nearly covers the entire surface of the pond. I can’t tell if the banana in the far-left corner is showing signs of life. Such misery!

I knelt on a mulch pile yesterday to look at my Meyer lemon and the orange hibiscus;  both are budded, which should excite me. The African gardenia is also covered with flowers. Between that and the jasmine, the garden scent is so strong it warbles up to the second floor, where I can sniff it from my desk.

Meanwhile, last weekend’s deluge blessed my wild children—the wisteria, orange trumpet, autumn clematis, and the honeysuckle. The growth is alarming. They all need thwacking back.    

It is progress, I suppose. Much of the clutter that’s now in the way was on the back porch, which is supposed to be a place of rest and lounging. I’m having difficulty envisioning the final destination, since the garage is full to the walls and rafters (though I’m not sure we have rafters: there’s stuff in the way). 

There was a threat involved. It seems to have worked. I’m listening to the sounds of progress, the banging and shoving and cursing. I hope all of this crap is leaving, though not the mulch, which I will need. 

Please, may the path be clear so I can exhale my venom and indulge in a violent bout of . . . gardening.

Happy almost summer! 

*Trompled. Not a word, but certainly should be.

LittleBird Stephanie’s garden in better days, with the rear garage, which looks like a charming cottage thanks to the arched door. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

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