This restoration project has been another long one, primarily because I’d look at the overly exuberant ivy growing wild in the flower bed, and shake my head and walk away. I redid the other front flower bed in early June. But the tangle of ivy with its tough woody stems has merrily defied my puny efforts to remove it. I’ve kept four plants watered and alive on my deck for almost three months, with the intention of getting them into the ground, as I did their counterparts on the other side of the steps.
A few days ago, knowing I was at last making a supreme effort to get this last flower bed restored, Greg came to my rescue. Using a garden spade, he rapidly dug out the majority of the ivy, getting underneath the shallow root system. I am so grateful, or I would not be posting this particular blog post tonight. After two days of heavy rain, six inches of water, according to my rain gauge, I donned my oldest gardening clothes and sneakers this afternoon and determined that I would finish this project today.
The ivy is a hardy plant, I’ll give it that. My grandson Dayan and I planted one small sprig five years ago, and it took off, spreading until it choked out all other plants in the bed. The 2011 tornado and two years of drought and high summer temps did nothing to deter it. Instead, it thrived! I’ve learned a lot about gardening in the past few years, and this is a plant that does best as ground cover, or when you have an area that you want it to take over! At last today, after a few more minutes of Greg wielding a shovel, bare ground was revealed.
After diligently removing roots, which was an interesting game of tug of war, for the most part, I had a ready to plant bed. The rain made the soil dark and rich and easy to work. In a few moments, I had the four long-suffering plants tucked into the ground. They are not nearly as mature as their associates in the other front garden bed, but they will catch up. I know I will have to be watchful for new ivy shoots to appear, and remove them promptly.
A fresh layer of mulch, after a light watering, and the task was completed. It felt so incredibly good to step back and eye my work. At each end are dwarf ornamental grasses…Hamelin Dwarf Fountain Grass and Bronco Leatherleaf Sage. The Hamelin Grass in the left front garden has feathery spears. Next year, this resilient grass on this side will too. In between, as on the other side, are two yellow Stella de Oro Daylilies. Now that this bed is finished, I returned a couple of favorite rocks to the bed. And at the far end, rests a little terra cotta statue, or what remains of it, anyway. At one time, five years ago, it was a cute little rabbit. I found it today, buried beneath the mass of ivy, missing its ears and well worn and weathered. I considered chucking it into the trash bin. But I washed it off, and kept it. I like it. It reminds me of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, who discovered, “…once you are real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”. I understand. And I think my rabbit statue is beautiful.
After cleaning up my mess, and trust me, there was one, and before heading in to take a much needed shower, and trust me, it was a necessity, I tucked one more plant into the ground. Greg’s cousins bought a lovely Hydrangea, that was delivered to the cemetery for the graveside service for Greg’s dad. I have been keeping it healthy and watered on the front deck. Today, after much consideration about its new location, I planted it in the Hosta garden, since it needs very little sunlight, near Coral Bells. Interestingly, there is a rabbit statue there as well, although this one has its ears still. What a beautiful plant, and a beautiful reminder of Bob Moore. I will cherish this plant, and think of him, and the cousins, Mark, Pam, Linda and Tim, and their families, every time I look at it. What a gorgeous day, to do wonderfully restorative work, for me and for the garden. For this season, the planting is done. Now there is maintenance….and dreaming up new features and flower beds for next year. But first, I will enjoy the remainder of this season….and let my gardens and myself rest.