Monday, June 11, 2007

Gardening... like putting out Timed-Release Neighbor Bait

Or something.

I've now met a good number of our neighbors... weeks after we actually moved in. At first, I was far too busy unpacking to notice that no one was really speaking to us (except to tell us they were putting in a fence).

But eventually I noticed that the neighborhood wasn't exactly brimming with welcome. Oh, they weren't lobbing molotov cocktails at the door or anything, don't get me wrong. But it was definitely a bit more distant than I'd expected.

Or at least... it was until I'd sunk some cash and considerable effort into reclaiming the side garden from the wilds. I love gardening and I'd been horrified at the significant neglect. There were saplings growing out of the azaleas that were clearly 5 years old or more. One of the rhododendrons was brown and crunchy, and I had a poison ivy TREE overwhelming the other one. Plus, the weeds came to my nose. I live in a suburb - a busy one at that - and I saw no reason to let that garden continue to well.... FESTER. Armed with shovels, rakes and various sharp implements, I tore into it. (literally)

Ok... see the light green bushy stuff there at the top right? sort of below the tree leaves... yeah. That. That's part of the poison ivy.

On my third weekend of Operation Weedkiller, I reached a point where I could lay some garden cloth in one section and put in some astilbe, hosta and impatiens. A thin layer of mulch on the new plants gave the illusion that I'd gotten much more accomplished than I really had. Let's face it, sometimes we need that illusion. It was starting to get a little overwhelming and I was desperate for results.

And whaddya know. As cars were pulling up to the stop sign (I'm on a corner lot), people were calling out to me:
"Hey looks great!"
"Oh, that's so wonderful!"
"Looking good!"
"Thank you SO MUCH!"

Thank you? Huh??? That one threw me for a loop. And then, people on walks began to stop and engage me in conversation and I began to piece things together.

They knew we were renters. (the horror) Ah but wait... it seems that since the owner began renting this house out, its been getting trashed. And when they move out, the owner has to fix it back up... and this last time, the property got to be an eyesore. And since this is a busy street, it seems EVERYone knew about the blue house on the corner.... I believe it. I've found all kinds of messed up nonsense in and around the property that bespeaks "not my house so I don't care". Now I don't know these people, but I know what they've managed to do to this house and it ain't pretty. Call me bitchy, but if you go through life breaking everything you touch and refusing to do anything about it? That's just trashy.

So when the neighbors saw the For Rent sign go down, they all figured they were getting another renter who wouldn't care what the place looked like. So they didn't bother coming to meet us.... until they saw me busting my ass. Later that night, I called my husband, who was visiting his mom and told him I'd apparently bought us significant neighborhood goodwill through sweat equity. Every week I do a little more, and every week, more people come to talk to me. It's hysterical. (and a little gratifying).

I figure I've got about another month's worth of work on the main garden... maybe by then I'll have figured out what to do about the sad state of the hedges in the front. I've put some flower boxes on the deck... two of kitchen herbs, one of lavendar and two of red geraniums. Plus, I've got two huge pots of tomatoes started and am anticipating fried green tomatoes...

This weekend saw the removal of the poison ivy. It took me THREE HOURS and it filled up four black lawn trash bags. Good gravy. Then I dug out more weeks, cut down the rest of the saplings that weren't in plain sight and set out some purple echinacea, some black-eyed susans and some asiatic lilies. I want to get more of the echinacea & black-eyed susans... plus some red-hot pokers if I can find them and maybe some spirea. Also more impatiens. I'd LOVE to put in some peonies but am not sure how well they'd do.
My rhododrendon appears to have shrunk! Actually, the ivy had extended a good 18 inches above the poor shrub.

One of the nice things about this garden is that part is full sun and part is shade, so I can have both a sun and a shade garden.

In other news, Jacob has decided the new house is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous. He crawls lightning-fast now and figured out stairs this weekend. (whimper) He also now greets random strangers with a hand flung wide and "HI!". And he has learned the word "Duck".

I've got most of the house pulled together, artwork hung on the walls and the new oven was installed this weekend. They had to special order it because of the size (sigh) so I was ovenless for all this time. I promptly got up on sunday and made buttermilk biscuits and a blackberry cobbler and I think my husband thought he'd died and gone to heaven. I was mildly annoyed... I often cook a Sunday breakfast. It shouldn't have been some kind of shock.

Oh, and we have a patch of four-leafed clovers just off the deck. It does nothing for my brand of luck, however, because I have been finding the darned things where ever I go, all my life.


canape said...

It's looking beautiful! Glad you have a good reason for your silence ;) And glad to hear you're doing alright.

Gerbil said...

That & we all got sick as dogs & the computer started acting up again. We really need to rebuild this sucker.

velocibadgergirl said...

That garden looks GREAT! I can't wait to see more after-pictures.

Also, someday you should tell the story of the OTHER rental house on know, the other one? With the...erm...tails? *shudder*

my4kids said...

Glad to see your back!
Umm only question with the poison ivy...did you stear clear of getting touched. That would not be fun. We usually rent so we get those original looks when we move in of "oh its renters again"