Signs of Spring

What is it about men and lawns?  God is definitely not a man because there would have BEEN no Garden of Eden; it would have been all grass.   I know what it’s like in our house, but can a plant  lover and a lawn lover ever co-exist peacefully when it comes to matters of the yard?

For Dearly Beloved, one of the highlights of spring is probably the sight of the lawn guy throwing out pre-emergent weedkiller.  Arrrggghhhh!!!  For several years I insisted on  organic applications  and while I won the battle, I  lost the war because the neighbors’  lush green lawns were such an obvious contrast to our weed patch,  we became the scourge of the block.  Dogs weren’t even allowed to poop in our yard lest they carry some seeds home in their coats.

Our current garden could be called  The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  The azaleas and dogwoods look lovely from the deck, but walk among them and you’ll trip on akebia, honeysuckle, porcelain berry,  vinca, wisteria, and ivy vines.  Previous owners never met an invasive vine they didn’t love.   We tackle them with vigor every year, but they out-vigor us because their roots creep in and under the lirope roots which have formed a brotherhood in the gravel someone inexplicably dumped out there.  Lirope, or monkey grass as it is commonly called no doubt because it makes a monkey out of anyone crazy enough to plant it, has roots so thickly inner-twined that an axe can’t cut them–if I’m at the other end of it, anyway.

When we first bought the house there was an island of monkey grass, Japanese maples, vinca, and nandina under the big oak tree in back.   If you think that sounds pretty, then I’m not explaining it very well.  The Japanese maples soared to heights of two feet or so and the nandinas had little more than a few stems.    Add years of wild onions, clover,  and wild strawberries and any weed that could find a spot and you’ve got our “bed.”  

It took five guys an entire day to dig out the plants, but the gravel isn’t going anywhere no matter how hard we try, so grass seemed the only alternative, even to me, much to Dearly Beloved’s surprise.   It looks okay, but okay is a long way from lush.   Every spring some of the old stuff tries to stage a resurrection.  This year the wild onions and lirope are wearing the muscle shirts. 

This morning. . . this beautiful spring morning. . . I armed myself with my Japanese gardening knife and headed out for battle.   This is a serious tool recommended by my friend Martha.  It even comes with a holster but I don’t use it because (a) holster loops don’t work on elastic waist pants and (b) even if I wore a belt I’d probably forget and wear it to Harris-Teeter and get arrested for being semi-armed.

I heard DB’s heart drop as I walked past him on the porch.   His weapon of choice, since the lawn guy didn’t come through this year, would probably be a container of Roundup.    He hates to see me mess with his lawn.  It’s right up there with messin’ with his golf clubs.    I mean,  it doesn’t seem to bother him for the dog to pee on it, but let me start digging in it and he gets anxious.

Lots of fat worms showed themselves and a few long, skinny things I suspected were worm impostors but didn’t dwell on it.  The icky white “c-shaped” things in the soil–what ARE they called?–  I threw out onto the parking pad for the robins.   I hate it when I lose words!  I had the old  recycling bin full of wild onions and monkey grass within a couple of hours.    No, I don’t exactly recycle them, but to let you know how bad the double-bagged dog poop smells in warm weather, I throw some wild onions into the garbage can to IMPROVE  the air.

A little more global warming (not that I’m encouraging it!) and I’ll put my plan for the lirope roots into action.  We’ve had several friends from the Upper Midwest visit us and they’ve all found the lirope attractive.   As soon as their climate warms up another zone,  I’m heading up there with a truckload of lirope roots.  If the Japanese could sell us kudzu. . . !

Dearly Beloved enticed me away from his grass by offering to take me out to lunch.  Grub always wins with me.  (GRUBS!  That’s what those icky things are called; I had it misfiled in my brain. Under FOOD instead of PESTS.)   Our favorite neighborhood pub had its doors propped open and people eating on the patio.   On the way home we passed a Little League game at the park and Dearly Beloved, 66 going on 12, stopped the car and jumped out to go watch the game, telling me he’d walk home.   

I drove home and parked the car , then, and as an afterthought I wrote my name in the pollen on the hood.  Ah, springtime! It does bring out the kid in all of us.

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BEFORE and AFTER. . . any fool can see how my efforts enhanced the lawn!

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