Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Garden of Live Flowers

I moved into my apartment a little over two years ago.  When I moved in, the apartment manager told me that I could do whatever I wanted with the flower beds.  She also mentioned that the people moving into the other half of the duplex in a few weeks were gardeners and were excited to do some work in the flower beds.  I don't garden even though I love to look at pretty flowers, so I decided to let the neighbors have free reign.  

For the most part, Barley and I spend time in the backyard because it's shadier and quieter and I have a bench that I can sit on a read.  There are lots of squirrels for Barley to watch, too, so she'll usually entertain herself for at least 20 minutes before she needs attention.

After we'd shared a flower bed for a year and a half, I was fed up with the neighbors for never having touched it (they might have been fed up with me, too, but if they were told I gardened, they were lied to).  I decided to clean out my half and my mom and grandma came up to help.  We got the half cleaned out and the neighbors came out and said, "Oh, we were going to do this!  We were thinking we'd put a bench out here and a few flowers, would that be ok with you?"  I said sure and told them to let me know when they wanted to plant and I'd be happy to help them.

Fastforward six months.  Their apartment had some sort of water issues.  (We have insanely bad drainage in the complex.)
After lots of rain or melting snow, my backyard looks like it's lakefront property.
So the neighbors moved across the parking lot into a dry duplex--mine had no problems, though, so I have been happily singing in the shower with no worries of having an audience since they moved out.  I didn't actually like these neighbors, so it was good riddance.  Then one day, they moved out of the complex completely! This made me even happier, but it also meant there was no hope of them ever executing the plans for the flower bed--and when spring rolled around again it was back to it's completely overgrown state.

After the snow was gone, Bob the maintenance man started to do work in the other half of the duplex, so in June I decided I should just clean out the whole flower bed and do my own thing before anyone else moved in.

It was awful.  I hate getting dirty.  I hate manual labor.  (There's a reason I picked a major/career path that involves a lot of sitting and reading.)  I spent several hours every day for a week cleaning out this stupid flower bed.  It was so overgrown.

It took two days to clear out this little section.
Barley kept me company tied out on her long lead.  As I've mentioned, Barley has energy and lounging in the yard is not her cup of tea.  She wants to run and play and herd me.  She also hates heat, so she'd rather be inside in the air conditioning anyway.
Barley supervised the cleaning.
She hated the work.
Eventually, I got the little stuff.  My thumb was blistered, and there was dirt under my nails for days (even though I had scraped them on a bar of soap beforehand!).  There were several bigger plants that were not going to come up with my bare hands or my tiny little trowel.  My mom said she'd come up with real gardening tools and help me finish cleaning and help with planting, too.
Finally, it was down to the only things in bloom and several things that were too big to pull up without a real shovel.
Unfortunately, our schedules didn't work and the whole stupid flower bed got overtaken by weeds again before Mom made it here.

Yesterday, she came up and we got the whole thing cleared in a couple hours (work goes much faster when you have the right tools and an extra set of hands!).  We dug up some of the hostas that had taken over the space beside my back porch and spread them around flower bed.  I also took a bird bath that the neighbors had left in a flower bed directly in from of their half of the duplex for the middle.  Then today Mom and I bought some other little flowers and plants to add some color to the flower bed.
Much better!
My little garden gnome!
I feel so much better about my apartment now that it has lost that unkempt look.  Hopefully when the other half of the duplex is ready for new neighbors, they'll like it, too, and help me keep it from getting overgrown again.

As I said, I hate manual labor, so I took the rest of the afternoon off after Mom left and curled up with Through the Looking-Glass to do a little reading for Coursera since it's time to start essay #2 (I did really well one essay #1 on Grimm's Tales, so I need to keep it up!).  When I got to Chapter 2, I felt like I was reading about my own flower bed.  The Tiger-Lily tells Alice that the flowers can talk when others don't because "In most gardens, they make the beds too soft--so that the flowers are always asleep."  My flower bed was ridiculously hard and full of rocks, so I am sure that once they've settled into their new home they'll be talking up a storm!  I can only hope that when my flowers start talking they are friendlier than the ones Alice encounters.


  1. I bet the garden gnome will keep those flowers in line :-) It looks SO good!!

  2. What a clever reference to Alice! Well done! :)
    - andrea