april is the cruellest month...

April. How do you taunt me? Let me count the ways... (o.k. i will quit with the weak literary allusions now. maybe.)
But Michigan april, you do so taunt me with your fickle ways. In my homeland, April is defined by sunshine and showers. Everything is burst into bloom, and the daffodils are moving over for the first glimpse of summer perennials. Yes, it rains, but it is a lovely soft rain that makes the fields and lawn a verdent green. There, I fling open the door, wearing only a simple shift of white linen and a large straw hat. I stride into the garden, the birdsong glorious, and church bells chiming, in my arm is a basket containing pruners and other simple gardening tools.... and... and...

Over here, let's just say April is defined by sunshine, showers, balmy evening barbeques, gardening AND snow-storms, scraping off the car, and scrabbling to dig your kid's snow suit out of storage (you stupid naive woman, you). Last night's weather forecast told me to expect "scattered sprinkles" and now I sit and watch neighbors stroll by with t-shirts on (though, IMHO, they are tempting fate. assholes).

But here is how April taunts me the most. And this machination comes in the form of a little publication that slips into my mailbox this time of year. The Direct Gardening Plant catalog.... I realize that my relationship to this magazine bears a striking similarity to that between me and knitting, sewing, and cooking. All of which i could not give half a toss about in my youthful days, in spite of (no, probably because of) my mother's supreme adeptness in all these areas. (remind me to tell you how my mother "did" my wedding one day). But now, for some (perhaps genetically programmed) reason, I find myself lured to the siren call of all these things. With varying degrees of success.

beware the direct gardening plant catalog, for it bears false hopes and false truths...

We bought our house three summers ago, and finally I had a garden that was *my* responsibility. My husband developed a disarming awareness of the lawn (which included an overzealous bout of fertilizing one summer, that i won't go into here) and I, in turn, was reponsible for the flowerbeds and potted plants that I just knew would be overflowing english cottage-style by, say, mid-July. The previous owners had obviously subcribed to the catalog and bought many of their products. As I poured through its pages I found bargains I simply could not believe. This being one of them, "a three season garden which begins blooming in the spring, continues throughout the summer and into the fall. It features ten old-fashioned favorites to add beauty to your landscape for many years."

They had me at the "old fashioned!" Along with that fact that I would get something like 40 plants, all perennials, for $39.95. Sign me up!!! Let the bucolic, bumblebee droning, pims-sipping times roll!

So, I ordered these plants and many, many more online. And wait eagerly for their arrival in May. I'm thinking "wow, that's a whole lot of plants they're going to be delivering me. I'd better hope I'm in to assist with the unload..." In my mind, a modest truck or van would be stopping outside the house, a kind old driver would open up the back, "we bought your plants, missus, and you got yourself some real beauties here," and lo and behold, it was crammed with all glory of color and foliage. Neighbors have to assist as we carry armfuls and armfuls off fragrant plants into my garden, which is prepped and manured in anticipation (and, of course, I am wearing a simple linen shift, a straw hat, and some elegant gardening gloves). It suddenly becomes a community event, as we all pitch in to make a garden, then sit dirty but tired with a nice glass of crisp pinot grigio.

OK. I am now making myself nauseas now.

So, of course, those of you with half a clue know how this story really went. One decidedly icy afternoon in early May come home to find a small black plastic sack on the back porch. I peer inside to find about 50 ziplock baggies of FREAKING ROOTS. Not even in pots, but suspended in dormant animation in carefully labelled baggies. 12 peonies in one baggie, 6 hollyhocks in another, and so forth. Dried up, dormant roots. That needed planting within one week. Forgive me, but I found it very hard to get excited about planting these here roots. So, did I plant them in a week? Did I fuck.. (Well except for a few hollyhocks, which, did you know, are bloody BI-Annual, and which, did you know, means they only bloom every TWO years? And these emeged last year, raggedy and bug-ridden, to remind me of my folly).

And so, yes, this pretty much sums me up as an instant gratification kind of gal. Each year I start out with such high hopes for this increasingly tattered yard of mine. (last year--started out well, then got a puppy and had a dissertation to complete. Who has time to water???)

But this year, yard, you shall become a garden. It might just kill me, but if I can cajole the old man into some sort of inbuilt sprinkler system, it might just do the trick...

Wish me well, comrades. Wish me well.


The Sheriff said...

Good luck with the gardening. You are lucky. Me and the Deputy live a tiny, four room flat with a big window that allows us to see the garden but not actually get to it. Ah... we've spent many an evening watching our neighbours enjoy a Barbeque and glass of wine in that garden. Swines.

doow said...

Many moons ago, my parents ordered a number of young beech saplings to form a hedge. They were so small that they were pushed through the door in a littlle box. The saplings that is, not my parents.

weaker vessel said...

SO FUNNY. We, too, were sucked into the Direct Gardening vortex. We have this one spot on the left side of our backyard that's really open, line-of-sight-wise, to our neighbor's backyard, so we decided to put in some hedges or trees there for more privacy. After pricing fairly mature saplings at Lowe's (yowza!), we went the Direct Gardening route and bought like 20 trees for $18 or something stupid like that. I, too, was stressing out about the delivery (although my fantasy residual self-image was wearing the denim capri-length overalls that I 'outgrew' a couple of years ago). Then, the Little Zip-Loc Baggies of Death arrived. We planted them anyway, in an uncharacteristic spasm of optimism and industry. Total. Failure. They all died.

If you ever want some giggles, plug "direct gardening" into google and behold all of the customer complaints. It's pure comedy gold, I tell ya.

zeldafitz said...

Aye varily, you English lass--I'm betting on a bevy of cockleshells, petunias and hyacinths come summah.

You need to make THIS into a T-shirt:

"Let the bucolic, bumblebee droning, pims-sipping times roll!"


neva said...

fianlly!!! i've been trying to get in to the comment page here for the past hour!

oh how i laughed... and how i relate! for, have i not done the exact same thing? (i have, i have!) stupid crummy gardening catalogues. makin' us think we can get enough great plants to make our yards look like something out of better homes & gardens... for $39.95.

as for your own gardening? one word, girlfriend: containers. lots 'n lots of 'em! (okay, that's the only way i've been able to succeed with gardening... joel & i have tried various plantings in the actual yard, from time to time, with pathetic results. but give me some impatiens, petunias, and whatever those little tiny white flowers are that fill in spaces so nicely, and i'm golden!)

still... i'm liking this mental picture i now have of you tending to your graceful garden in that white linen dress & wide-rimmed hat... can't wait to hear how that works out for ya in the "real" world! tee hee!

[i'm tellin' you, you're so good with these posts... how can this not count as "being published"???]

Mega Mom said...

Me TOO, me TOO!! I did it last year. What losers!!!!

I now have trees (er sticks) planted all over the place that will take at least 14 years to grow (who am I kidding--not happening).

The kicker is that in a few short weeks I will become the new President of my Garden Club. Thank goodness it is really a social club so I won't be impeached. I can do social.

sweatpantsmom said...

I am in awe of anyone who can keep a garden.

Me, I have a brown thumb. Or what's worse - a black thumb? That's me.

Seriously, I can kill a cactus.

sunshine scribe said...

Good luck with the gardening. My hats off to you. What is the opposite of a "Green Thumb"? I have that.

Chaotic Mom said...

Damn, you make me so NOT miss Wisconsin.

I've done the same thing, ordered from the same garden. Now I buy them big. Costs more, of course.

Mega Mom, pres of your social Garden Club? Cool... ;)

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