As I sit on the front porch looking out, I see an immaculate lawn—not ours, the one across the street. Except for four scrawny hibiscus bushes, our yard is void of decorative flora. I’m reminded of our last foray into horticulture, about ten years ago.
My husband, Pete, and I decided to invest in front yard beautification. Even with a total of four thumbs between us, not one is green. We optimistically drove up to our local outdoor garden shop in our pickup truck and with a song in our hearts. While “touring” outdoor plants with the obligatory helpful young man, we turned the corner and discovered dollar pots. The idea of a bargain struck a chord, thus we bought indiscriminately. I remember them as being various colors, very small, which we decided to place on each side of the walkway to provide a welcoming kaleidoscope of color.
I spent about two hours carefully digging with a spoon (forgot to buy gardening tools) and lovingly providing each plant a permanent new residence. The next day my husband spent about four hours methodically redoing what I had done—with order, precision, and spacing. He took the extra twenty-five plants and placed them in rows of five across, five down (looked like a marching band in formation). Pete enjoyed his “landscaping” so much that he decided to beautify the back yard around the pool. Once again, the empty bed of the pickup truck was reloaded with more (and different) flora. Pete then spent most of the following Saturday outlining the pool with various plants of different heights, being careful not to place two of the same color (or species for that matter) side by side. Screamy (the cat) thought she had been relocated into a jungle.
Pete wanted to give the plants a chance to take root (was he consulting the local horticulturist?), so he gently hand-watered the front yard plants for two weeks. After that, he decided they could be watered with our newly-purchased sprinkler. I’ll never forget watching him place the sprinkler “just so,” pacing off the length and width of the proposed stream of water, making sure that as many plants as possible would benefit.
I was in the kitchen when attacked. The unmistakable rat-a-tat-tat of pellets hitting the house drove me underneath the breakfast table for cover. After a brief pause, the firing recommenced. Both cats joined me as the siege continued, probably thinking I could save us all. An eerie quiet suddenly interrupted the bursts, and I belly-crawled toward the door. Curiosity got the better of me, and I lifted the blinds to see who was assaulting us.
There stood Pete amidst the ruins. As I opened the door, I saw the front of the house dotted with colorful remnants of what were once the tops of flowers lining the sidewalk. The large and small splats of color plastered to the boards of the house silently admonished Pete for decapitating the fledgling plants with the high water pressure in his zeal to cover as much territory as possible.
We are only now ready to revisit the garden shop.