watch this space


St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
April 02
chief instigator
don't tread on me
I'm not dead yet


Ladyslipper's Links
APRIL 25, 2010 3:46AM

GNS - Moving Day

Rate: 8 Flag
Today it rained. Normally that would not be good news, or news of any sort, in our part of the country at this time of the year. April rain is usually cold, damp, unpleasant and inconvenient, to the extent that I have to keep repeating to myself the childhood mantra, "April showers bring May flowers," when what keeps running through my head is "April is the cruellest month."
But this year, the weather is about two weeks ahead of itself. In Minnesota in the spring, that is nearly the equivalent of saying "The weather skipped a full grade." The star magnolia and the tulips are now petals on the ground. Lilacs are budding, the sweet woodruff and forget-me-nots are displaying their tiny flowers, and I have an abundance of invasive plants that need to be divided and moved. Now, before they take over the planet.
So today is moving day in my yard. It is also planting day. The perennials I ordered from Gurney's have been arriving piecemeal over the last week, and I have got to get them in the ground. I do not want to see two hundred dollars' worth of greenery disappear down the storm sewer. I put on my hooded denim jacket, my red rain boots and a pair of jeans that drag in the mud, and pull on a pair of wet gloves. I get out my hand tools, my shovel, my watering can and the liquid starter fertilizer that smells like a freshly opened bottle of multivitamins. I am so intent on finishing my project today that I do not care if the rain soaks my clothes, dragging me to the ground. I just want to get this done.
I begin by spending two hours straightening a row of hosta. These are shade plants, because I have a yard with only a few square yards that receive full sun every day. The rest is part sun, partial shade, or deep shade, and I have to evaluate every planting in terms of how much sunlight will find its way through the bottom canopy to my humble plot of earth. I take risks, and some have paid off. The workhorse of my garden is hosta. Hosta is a plant that radiates outward from a center, draping or spreading like extended fingers. Each plant sends out tall stalks of bloom in late summer. I must have about seventeen varieties, each with a different kind of leaf: plain shiny green, or variegated in shades of white, green, yellow, cream, blue. 
This particular row is a hedge I planted to delineate our yard from our neighbor's, not in an unkind way. The two boys living next door needed a line in the dirt to separate their Matchbox cars from our lawnmower, and this is what I came up with. Unfortunately, I cannot draw a straight line to save my soul, and the hosta have been in need of fixing ever since. With a great deal of measuring with the eye, I fix them. It is like threading a needle with leaves, but I fix them. 
Next, I dig up bishop's weed, ferns, lily of the valley, snow-on-the-mountain, more hosta. I bring them out to the space between the sidewalk and the street, and plant them under the enormous maple that has increased in size by a  factor of - well, not only can I not draw, I can't do math either. So let's just say it has gotten huge. It is as big as a semitrailer. It has gotten so big that grass will not grow beneath it or for the length of our yard in either direction. But that has not stopped us from throwing grass seed and fertilizer on that boulevard stretch every year, for years, hoping that this year would be different, that the wisps of grass that came up would not die and leave behind even more dirt than was there in the first place. Our unanswered prayers finally convinced us of the need to do what I am doing today, digging in the rain.
"I don't like pennyroyal tea," I sing under my breath, embedding shovelfuls of that inherit-the-earth herb in the ground. I think of Kurt Cobain's raw voice, the voice that foreshadowed his untimely death. Could pennyroyal have made him manic? It is certainly doing that to me, as I plant fistfuls of it. The rain runs down my face.
I have bought a couple of dozen hardy gladiolus bulbs, the kind that do not need to be dug up every fall. You just leave them in place. That is the kind of gladiolus I like. I'm not a squirrel, moving bulbs around. I have my eye on a particular spot for them, behind the raspberries, facing the alley. A spot in the sun.
Unfortunately, my husband does not find my idea at all charming. He's already planted daylilies there, the common kind, the kind I hate. They have drapy leaves and ugly orange flowers that shrivel up and look hideous. They came with the yard and I hate them irrationally.   
We argue quietly. The rain drips off of the horse chestnut as we stand in the alley.
"We could move these," I say. In my head, I add "to the compost heap."
"Why? This is a great spot for them," he says. His eyebrow twitches. He is not happy.
"But I need a place for the glads," I say.
We go back and forth. The snowplow in winter; the salt. And who sees them there?
The neighbors. And us. And there's sun.
Finally he says, "But it took me a whole day to move them there," and turns away. Suddenly I remember a day like this, last spring, when he moved the daylilies in the rain. And I see a small boy, separated by a hedge of common hosta from his favorite toys. 
And I say, "All right. I have another place for the glads." 

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Gads, I am so Glad I woke up in the rain.
Rumi wrote that the fields rejoice in rain.

If I walk in the woods I'll see lady slipper?
I hope so. If I do I'll take a beautiful photo.

Today is a farmer market Sunday. Rumi-
When the gardeners come to town it is-
a precious day. It's the mule wagon day.
The saddle bags and wagon are loaded.
Mule carry what is better than the gold.

(paraphrased from my partial memories)

Gist- The wagon and side bags are full of food.
Greens, tulips, herbs, and pure nourishment.
Thanks Lady Slipper. I am Glad that You grow.

P.S. I think it's if downloads are slow? comment?
Who knows why the 'Post this comment' `stinks?
I know this post was fragrant. You smell beauty!
I follows the `New Post Feed. Yummy for belly!
I gotta rest up for a mule ride to wild wonderful-
Hillbilly ride to West Virginia. Yippee. Showers!
You planned and tended this piece with the same care your brought to your garden. This is so well crafted and so rich: earthy, but full of spirit; hard work, but full of love. Just great.
I used to have a catalog for hostas. They are just amazing. But I don't have any. I used to have apidistras--which are really common down here in New Orleans. Awful things. I used to garden more. Now there are things in my little front yard and back yard that have taken over. I planted a firecracker bush in the full sun. It has grown to 12 feet high three times, frozen to the ground, and returned. It's like an enormous tree. And I planted it where I wanted a little flowering shrub. Digging in the rain--so fun. I'm glad that you let your husband win.
I can't add much to what Athomeilgrim stated so eloquently. Your last statement is a lesson in compromise. I think this piece should be part of pre-marriage counseling. Thanks for this wonderful piece, perfect for a rainy Sunday in April as I remember my grandmother planting and tending to her flower and vegetable gardens each spring with me in tow offering reluctant assistance.
Art - you are good news, every day.
Pilgrim - Thank you! Gardening is metaphor for me, and a great joy as well.
Nola - your yard sounds fabulous. I love watching things get bigger over the years. And yes, my husband was right about the glads.
Diva - I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. As for the premarital counseling bit - I'm very flattered. Sometimes it's hard to see the emotions behind an argument, and recognize the importance of letting the other person win.
I can't help myself sometimes, but I envy those that have full dibs on Spring. I don't have it where I live. I have heat and rain, and heat without rain. It gets repetititve, it gets fastidious. Having to plant a garden (replanting, yes) every season seems to me such a lovely assignment. You get flowers I can only dream of, they will wilt here in under a day. Ever since I was a little kid, when I saw lilies of the valley picture, I've imagined what it would be like to have a garden overrun with those. I even embroidered some on my daughter's first baby clothes.
And yes, I was extremely moved by your willingness to compromise.
Happy gardening.
Thanks, Vanessa! Spring is truly a gift, as is the ability I sometimes find within myself to see the other person's point of view, and empathize with it. Glad you stopped by.
You fooled me by the title: Moving Day. It was a moving day in a sense, a journey from winter to spring, towards compromise and accepting. Very nicely crafted with love and appreciation, tilled with love and understanding. You created a temple from the lumber in your yard. GNS, indeed! Rated.
A lovely move. Hosta is a workhorse here as well. Enjoyed your post!
:) you are such a good wife. Ditch lilies spread like wildfire, and are impossible to get rid of. I still have some coming up in my bed despite years of eradication. Daylilies are my favorites to breed, but ditch lilies can't be bred, they proliferate underground and even part of a root will come back up healthy as sin. grr.
Have you ever tried heuchera (coral bells)? I have a few of those and they seem to do even better than hostas in my yard. I'm so envious of all your different varieties of hostas!! I once burned an entire row of plain (patriot?) ones by putting them into too heavy a mix of manure/soil :( That was an expensive oops.
FusunA - What a lovely comment, "A temple from the lumber in my yard." It is a joy hearing from you.
scupper - My yard would be a disaster without hosta. I'm glad it comes in so many varieties. Glad you liked my post!
Julie - you are so right about those lilies. I'd never heard the term "ditch lilies" before, but that's exactly what they are. I have hybrid daylilies and I love them, but these common ones are like noxious weeds.
I've tried coral bells, but they need winter protection here and I can never get them to last more than a couple of years. I've had great luck with hosta, so I keep buying more.
As for being a good wife, well. Sometimes I think I'm a better gardener.
Thanks for stopping by!
I have nothing but admiration for folks who have green thumbs and the motivation to use them! Me, I don't care much for plants and flowers (I know, I know, shoot me! I've heard it all my life just how inhuman I am to not love plants and flowers!) so any "moving" around our house (other than weed-pulling, I can do that) is done by my husband. (So he gets to make all the decisions about what-goes-where which of course is just fine with me.)

Beautifully descriptive! (r)
Eileen, you may or may not have an inner gardener you just have yet to discover. If not, who cares? I lack an inner mathematician and an inner nutritionist, so I add on my fingers and eat junk food and don't particularly care what people think. You are lucky to have a husband who takes the burden of working in the yard off your shoulders. So it's not your problem, it's theirs.
Thank you for stopping by!
Hm. Daylilies. We had deer, who loved them. We only ever saw buds, followed the next day by truncated stems.
Divorce Bard - your deer are welcome to eat my daylilies anytime. And thank you for stopping by.
I was all bundled up in my rain coat out there watching you plant.I had a fun imaginary day.I love gardening posts,it is something I so want in my life but i,m intimidated by dirt.That makes it difficult:)
dfa - sometimes vicarious gardening can be as good as the real thing - or better. Thanks for stopping by.