I had a college roommate who talked to her plants. Her side of our dorm room was filled with overachieving explosions of green. My side had an ever-revolving range of plants in my two little pots, doomed visitors who would linger bravely for a week or two before wanly accepting their fate.
This wasn’t really a problem over the next four decades. With jobs, kids, and a husband who likes to mow large swaths of lawn, my black thumb couldn’t do too much damage. Then I blew it. I moved to the UK, where gardening is a sacred passion.*
*I’m totally not imagining this. Recent UK census and surveys show that almost 60% of people spent time gardening within the previous month, but only 12% attended religious services.
When we bought our house on a wee isle in Scotland, it came with an absolutely wonderful gardener who kept the jungle from closing in. Sadly, he told us he was retiring and the garden was all down to us now. This wouldn’t be a particular issue, except for our neighbors. Downhill below us is one of the most spectacular gardens I’ve ever seen, kept immaculately and with such a flair for color and casual design that you could charge admission. Uphill above us is a cottage with a hedge so flawlessly straight I’m completely convinced our neighbor Peter manicures it with a surgically-sharp but very tiny pair of scissors.
And between these two lovely gardens, there’s… us. After two years without anyone who knows what they’re doing, our garden would be an excellent understudy for the next Tarzan film. When guests go for a stroll, I feel the odd machete would not be amiss.
So the Hub bought me a scary pair of enormous loppers, and I told the dog I was going in. At first it was almost fun. Without a clue what I was doing, I started to hack a path from the greenhouse. Then somehow I was holding my jaw and listening to a peculiar whining noise. Oh, wait… it was me moaning, and my cupped hand was filling with blood from my nose and split lip. When things stopped spinning, I slowly pieced together that the branch I was lopping had released the other branch it had been holding back, sending it on a flying assault to my face.
Two hours of ice later, most of the bleeding had stopped and the swelling was starting to go down.
By then it was raining, but I decided I really had to get the wheelbarrow and pick up the branches I’d cut. The wheelbarrow had other ideas.
I remember sliding downhill on my dignity, flat on my back as rocks flew past. Even as rapidly moving bits of me banged into immovable bits of garden, I couldn’t help wondering what had become of the wheelbarrow. I didn’t have long to wonder, because the wheelbarrow dropped from the skies, upside down. I just had time to think how NOT good this was, when it smashed across my legs, followed by the ridiculously large load of cut sticks and branches.
It was oddly peaceful lying there. I remember thinking nothing would hurt unless I moved, and seriously considered not doing so for the next week or two. Eventually, I had to admit I was lying in the mud, in the rain, with the dog licking my face. Since I know what else she licks with that tongue, I decided movement was going to be necessary. That’s when I realized my phone had accompanied me on my downhill slalom. Help was at hand! I called the Hub’s number and listened to it ring out. Several times.
Hoping neither of my gardening neighbors was a witness because I could tell my jeans were technically not occupying the body parts they’d started with that morning, I crawled up the hill to the house. There I was met by the Hub, asking if I had tried to reach him and did I know my jeans were ripped? And did I realize that actually, my ripped jeans were not performing their assigned role clear across my backside and on both knees? And further, my nose and lip were bleeding? And, while he had my attention, did I know we were out of peanutbutter?
I located the spare peanutbutter and crawled upstairs. The Hub and the dog went off to share peanutbutter crackers. The loppers and the wheelbarrow are undoubtedly plotting their next murder attempt. And I retired to a hot bath, where I composed an urgent request.
GARDENER WANTED IMMEDIATELY for homicidally-inclined garden. Prefer someone without dependents who has plenty of life insurance and very good sense of balance. If you’re feeling brave, call Barb.