Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Garden Saga- Part 1

If you know me personally, or even through this blog, you probably know I love gardening. You may also recall that we bought our current house just days before Ethan was born and were negotiating the final details during labour, taking a brief pause for delivery and recovery. It was all kind of done on a whim, as we weren't planning on moving but this house in our favourite neighbourhood came up for sale, and it just needed a little work, and the price was really right, and how much work could one tiny baby be anyways? Did I mention we bought it in February, under a blanket of snow, and no firm recollection of what the house looked like in summer? Bad idea.

Our old house went on the market when Ethan was 1 week old, sold rapidly and we were set to take possesion of the new one by May 1. After some floor refinishing, painting and minor fix-ups, we moved in when Ethan was 10 weeks old. We already had a feeling that we'd taken on more than we'd bargained for, what with the growing list of issues that needed to be addressed sooner than later (and the baby that was taking up a lot of our time!) and then, spring brought this:

So, breathe deeply....and try not to weep I told myself. It's a few shrubs and perrenials that need a little cleaning up, no big deal. Maybe some weeding. Except, it was just the beginning. We'd already taken down 3 hugely overgrown junipers which took over a third of the driveway, and now it looked like we'd be pulling weeds and digging and seperating perrenials for the rest of our lives. It kept growing and growing. And spreading. And multiplying. And, by August, it looked like this:

We were in violation of several city by-laws and we'd already had neighbours "dropping by" asking us what we were going to do about "cleaning up this shit" (as one of the retirees so nicely put it!). One woman actually showed up armed with gardening books and plenty of advice, treating me like I was a gardening neophyte, but made no offer to get her hands dirty or anything like that. She annoyed me so much, I still barely speak to her! It seems the garden had originally been planted by an environmental scientist, who filled it with native trees, shrubs and perennials.....and yes, even some weeds, because I guess that's authentic. I remember the house from back then, and he actually took care of it and it was under control. It was really nice, if you're into that kind of thing, and it even won some awards. Unfortunately, the most recent owner, had done nothing for 5 years, except for weed-whacking it all down in fall. So, we'd inherited a gigantic weed and wildlife infested mess. And it smelled weird too.

Now, we're not afraid of digging in and doing some hard work- we'd expected to do some projects- but this was beyond what we had time or energy for. So, I did what any frantic, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived new mother with a chronically sore back and infant permanently attached to her, would do- I called professionals. How much to pull it all out and just put it to sod, and we'd deal with it from there? Harry the landscaper (and I really do love Harry- he's very honest) came over, took one look at it, cursed a lot, then cursed the "idiot" that had planted it and told me that he had pretty much no interest in dealing with "this f&*#ing mess". But, if he must, it would be $7000. That was just for the front yard! I told him I'd think about it. Then I wept, called Colin, explained the situation, wept some more, and called Harry back and said no thanks. He thanked me profusely and proceeded to tell me exactly what to do to clear it up ourselves. It involved some power tools, possibly some large machines, and definitely a whole bunch of Round Up. I wrote it all down, wept some more and we made a plan. To be continued.....

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