Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life among the weeds

Not long ago I posted about my bout with the poison ivy in my garden. At least one of you suggested future outings among the flowers should involve a Hazmat suit. I'm beginning to think you're right. However over the past couple of days I've hit on the best solution yet: Hire someone else to do it!!

I love my garden. I truly do, but sometime around the first of July, I lose all control out there. The weeds outnumber the flowers. Trees grow wildly in the tiger lily bed...and in the hedges...and in the crepe myrtles. Everywhere I turned a couple of weeks ago, there were things taller than I am that didn't belong where they were thriving.

I have a really big yard and short of poisoning everything and replacing the grass with Astroturf, I've hit a wall. So I hired a landscaper...not the one who ruined my lilacs last year, but a young man I've known for a while now, one who supplies most of the perennials in my gardens.

Now you'd think that turning this over to a professional would allow me to sit inside and write my books. Alas, control freak that I am, no. I sat on the porch for most of the day yesterday, threatening him with bodily harm if he so much as snipped one flower that hadn't finished blooming for the season. He was very patient with me. His young assistant was highly amused, especially when I mentioned that the landscaper hero in one of my upcoming books was pestered by an annoying woman just like me. I'm pretty sure he'll be first in line when FLOWERS ON MAIN hits stores next spring to see if the hero really is his boss.

Right at this moment there's not a weed in sight in my yard. Everything is heavily mulched. It's all beautiful. I figure I have about 24 hours to enjoy it before weeds start popping up all over. If only my flowers were half as hardy.

What's your biggest summertime frustration? Or your greatest joy? Hate kids tracking in sand from the beach or bringing in flies when they leave the front door standing open? How about backyard barbecues with friends and family? Vacations with everyone piled into the car and road trip games you learned when you were a kid? Let us know by clicking on comments below. Or send me an email at Sherryl703@gmail.com.

And if you know of any way to slow down the way this summer is flying by, let us know that, too. Feels like fall is just around the corner. Don't tell the kids, but it's almost time to start shopping for school clothes. How did that happen?

Oh, and one more thing...I loaned my poison ivy scrub to the landscaper.
Sherryl

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The serpent in the garden

Okay, the snake wasn't in my garden, so we'll get to that in a minute. My garden seems to be riddled with hidden poison ivy instead. So, in my zeal to rid it of weeds the other day, I managed to make contact with poison ivy and Virginia creeper, both of which seem to be exceedingly fond of me. I'm less enchanted.

After weeding, I scrubbed down with Clorox, the preventative of choice in this part of the world. Apparently I missed a spot . . . or two. The first breakout, a tiny one, started on my hand. Then another patch popped out on my neck. No idea how it got there. Then on my waist -- from pulling on slacks and brushing against that skin. And on and on and on. I was using a spray-on treatment that stops itching, but not much else. Then a friend passed along a prescription ointment. The itching calmed but the spreading continued.

Under normal circumstances, I'd have toughed it out, but with a photographer coming on Monday to shoot new author photos, I concluded I probably shouldn't be covered with blotches from head to toe, so broke down and saw a doctor for a prescription. I have finally stopped spreading and the outbreaks are fading. I even dared to go back into the garden this morning to yank a few more weeds, staying far, far away from where I think the poison ivy is laying in wait.

All of this got me to thinking about how the universe somehow tries to balance things. Something as lovely and rewarding as gardening can come with a nasty alternative. Just ask my friend author Carla Neggers, who thinks there's a nest of snakes in hers. She believes this because her son found a baby snake curled up inside the newspaper on their front steps the other day. She's pretty sure the rest of the family is in the garden . . . which means she isn't going there. Boy, can I relate. If a snake crawled out of mine, I'd probably have to move, though I do have memories of my grandmother taking a hoe to a snake in this very same front yard many years ago.

I suppose we all have to learn to take the bad with the good. Are there things you love doing that you've given up because the side effects or negatives aren't worth it? I'd love to hear about it. And if any of you know of a surefire way to kill poison ivy without killing everything around it, I'd like that information, too. Soon!!!

Sherryl

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