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June 21, 2001: Something green

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Shortly after we moved into this house, we decided that we had better get a front yard in before the neighbors started to complain. Plain dirt isn't so bad, but dirt filled with weeds is rather icky, and I figured the 'well, they just moved in' excuse would only last us for so long. So Richard and I started calling around, trying to find people who not only knew what they were doing, but also were willing to come out and do it for us.

The first gardener came out to give us an estimate. "What do you want?" he asked. "A yard!" I replied cheerfully. I was awarded a surprised blink. "With some bushes. Over there." I added, trying to be helpful. Apparently it was because he began to rattle off actual names. Luckily he recognized my blank look (perfected over the months of house building when we were asked obscure questions about things we had no idea we even needed to make decisions on), and began looking around the neighborhood and pointing out existing greenery. Our discussion rapidly subsided into him making cautious suggestions and me nodding. My only request was that I wanted these little pale pink flowers in the front since I think they're gorgeous, and from what I've seen, they have a tenacious desire to take over the world. I think he said they were some kind of poppy.

Anyway, by the end, he was left to wander the property with a measuring tape, muttering, while I escaped back inside and peered at him occasionally hoping he didn't have any more decisions for me. I suppose that we really ought to know what we wanted, but really, we didn't. Just With trees. Two trees, because that's what the city ordinance states.

The next guy who came by was easier - I'd already been primed by the first so I figured I was all set. I even remembered some of the names - or at least until I opened my mouth to spout them off and realized that I didn't really remember as much as I'd thought and could only blather something about 'well, it's a bush with flowers and it starts with an 'L', or maybe it was a 'P''s green?"

I should be used to these looks of tolerant amusement by now, really I should. We had them for five months of construction....but anyway.

The estimates came in and we picked someone - the same guy who was taking care of our lawn back in the old rental. He and his men showed up with a van full of dirt and canisters of bushes and two spindly little trees. They raked the dirt smooth, planted the bushes and trees, and then promptly disappeared for three weeks. Occasionally they'd show up to water, but in the meantime we had a really bad heat wave and one of the trees just couldn't make it.

I was willing to be patient, but I was starting to wonder just how long this was going to take when finally they reappeared, full of apologies and stories of getting tied down with another project that took much longer than expected. The dead tree was uprooted, the bushes carefully tended to, and within a week we finally had a lawn.

We're not allowed to walk on it and - as I discovered this afternoon when I went out to take pictures of the house and the yard - this is a good thing because they're watering it three times a day, and not only is it sprouting an amazingly bumper crop of mushrooms, but the ground is so soft underneath that should someone step on it, they would sink rapidly into the muck. Ugh.

So we finally have a yard. We still need to put up a fence - if only to hide the fact that the backyard is still a mass of weeds that are growing rapidly to waist high, and are probably plotting ways to take over the porch - and the bushes and ferns and pale pink whatever-they-are-poppies have a bit of growing to do before they provide the cover they're supposed to (although the poppies, at least, are taking off like weeds). But our house looks more like, well, a real house now with a proper carpet of green in front. And I figure that when they finally cut back the watering to once a day or less, the fungal growth will die off. Either that or one of these days the mushrooms, the weeds in the back, and the poppies will band together and when we get home from work they'll have staged a coup and taken over the house.

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