THE RELUCTANT GARDENER – April 2024

By Mary Overly Davis

It’s that time of year again, Springtime. I dread this time of year and the brownness of it all. Not only is the season proving to be a protracted mud fest, but everywhere you go, everything you read, is about gardening. My mailbox has been inundated with plant catalogs. For those that know me, or have seen my yard, it should come as no surprise to learn that I do not like gardening. Over twenty years ago my husband left me with his maintenance-intensive perennial garden. As his trees matured the yard became too shady for even grass to grow. A battle of wills ensued and years of disappointing results from my labors. I dug up most of the non-flowering perennials and planted shrubbery. A swath of distressed lawn was replaced with hardscape.

Hating to dig holes, my idea of planting is to “scatter,” as in seeds. Every day I eye the bag of grass seed I stowed away last Fall and wonder if it’s too early to toss around. Now that the snow has melted and the ground is well thawed, it looks like a herd of cattle stampeded through my yard. I stroll my pockmarked backyard and wonder what the hell happened. It could be my dog just doing her thing—running to catch frisbees and tennis balls, pawing at a scent, or perhaps underground creatures rising up through the loosened tundra testing the ground’s malleability. I often wonder why I don’t just lay down some Astroturf.

Measuring for an artificial lawn is just one of the tasks I’m currently pondering. For me, it’s time to start a list. Having raked the leaves onto my flower beds, they will have to be raked off and carted away. The yard needs a few hours under the leaf blower to clean out the crevices of  Winter’s wind debris. The chartreuse leaves of my nemesis plant—the rampant and persistent Bishop’s Weed—will require a dose of weed killer. My big decision this year is deciding where to plant the few Honorine Jobert Anemones I ordered last Fall from Holland Bulb. I bought them on a whim after seeing them in full bloom in the 92nd Street community garden in Riverside Park last year. With my dearth of patience, I usually plant full size and just hope things survive, but I’m making an exception.

The gardening tasks I truly don’t mind are weeding (which can be very meditative and rewarding), pruning (which is like weeding with tools), and picking up sticks. I already have several large stacks of sticks ready for a pyre. Soon it will be time to burn the brush. Now that’s the gardening task I really love! ~