Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'd forgotten how much my body can hurt!

I love having a beautiful yard with beautiful gardens all around. When the children were very small I a created decorative beds all round the back yard and filled them with vegetables and fruits. The front yard I filled with flowers and evergreen shrubs. I stayed home for 6 1/2 years and spent much time keeping the entire yard looking beautiful. My father always had beautiful flowers all over our yard when I was growing up, and I inherited both the gardener genes and the love of flowers from him.

It's been almost 20 years since I've been a stay at home wife and mom, and the yard really showed it. Fred mows the yard and sometimes trims the edges of the beds, but he really doesn't like yard work at all. For a long time I tried to keep things nice but just didn't have enough time. I'd go crazy with yard work for a weekend or two - working from dawn until dark - and then spent several days recovering because I could barely walk due to the muscle pain all over my body. Then when the heat of summer hit I didn't want to be out there at all. The backyard went to pot first, and now grass has grown over almost all of my gardens. For some time we did better at keeping the front yard presentable, but it too began to rapidly deteriorate when I started spending more and more of my free time quilting. First I discovered the Internet and joined several Yahoo quilting groups, and I started spending much more of my "free time" quilting. Then I discovered folk art and primitive quilting, learned to machine quilt, and then got a longarm. From completing only one or two small tops every year or two, I once again started sewing like a mad woman. I spent no time on the yard at all, and refused to listen to the little voice of guilt telling me things needed attention.

The front yard got to the point where I couldn't bear to look at it. All the perennials I'd planted were in desperate need of dividing. Grass had crawled into all the beds. The edges of the beds had totally disappeared. I could fool you with close-up shots of pretty shrubs but I never took shots that showed the true mess things had gotten into. My artist's eye was crying in pain whenever I looked out the front window. A week ago Friday I decided enough was enough. I called a local landscape and nursery business and asked them to come give me an estimate on the cost to clean all the weeds and grass out of the beds and re-edge everything. I knew I'd never be able to do it all even if I had the time - my body is MUCH older now that when I gardened every day. Their estimate was very reasonable, so last Monday I had them do it. They'd almost finished by the time I came home from work, and the results were remarkable. Money very well spent! Most of what was left to do was the fun stuff - shopping for plants and getting them in the ground. Our weather has been beautiful, and I could hardly wait.

Friday I bought large trays of petunias and marigolds at Costco. Then after coffee yesterday morning my daughter and I went to Home Depot and went crazy. I bought two beautiful hanging baskets - they'd given me one for Mothers Day - as well as a huge cart full of plants. Spirea and azaleas to replace several that had died in the ice storm winter before last. Several kinds of perennials to fill in bare spots in the beds. Geraniums and sun-loving impatiens. Lots of other little annuals that caught my eye. Plus a new wheelbarrow, as the handles on ours had rotted away after 30 years. It was a good thing she'd driven her truck as we totally filled it.

When we got home I grabbed a quick bite to eat and then started to plant. In no time at all my body started to protest. I've been incredibly lax at exercising - very bad, I know! - and in no time at all I was breathing hard and my heart was pounding from spading. We have heavy clay and hardpan, so gardening has always been a challenge. I started by dividing and transplanting perennials that I'd planted originally in an inappropriate place for their height. Then I did a severe pruning on our pink dogwood, getting rid of lower branches that crowded out the plants growing below the tree. Next I started planting the larger plants. Every 20-30 minutes I had to stop to sit, rest, and drink a bunch of water. It was slow going. I was starting to feel every year in this 60 year old body. At least I got smart and stopped about 4:30 even though I wasn't done - something I'd never have done even 2-3 years ago. I filled a tub with hot water and climbed in - by then my legs could hardly hold me. Fred went to Subway and got us sandwiches for dinner. I was so tired, but in spite of taking Advil I slept poorly due to muscle pain.

It rained overnight and was obviously going to rain more today, so I was back out this morning about 7:30 planting the rest of the larger plants and all the small annuals I bought to go along the side fence. I would have kept going but it started raining in earnest by 8:30 - good thing for my body I think. Now everything's in but the petunias, marigolds, and some pretty little purple and white flowers that weren't labeled but look sort of like a dwarf phlox. I wasn't going to take pictures until I was totally done, but I don't like to post without pictures so I went outside to take a few. The rest will have to wait until this next weekend. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I bought some stuff to sprinkle all around the plants which should keep weeds down for 3 months, and then we'll get a load of bark dust to finish it all off. I still have to deadhead the early spring perennials and trim a bunch of shrubs, but then I think I'll be done for the time being. I may have to buy a few more plants to fill in holes but I won't know for sure until everything else is planted. My goal is to have it all finished by Memorial Day.

In the meantime my body is crying from the abuse I've given it yesterday and today. I did finish quilting the quilt on the machine after I came inside this morning - I don't suppose that helped much. None of our chairs seem comfortable enough to sit in right now - and I know it's just me. But I keep looking outside and seeing how much better things look, and the pain is worth it. I just hope it's gone by next weekend so I can bend over again to sit on the ground and get back to work!

1. Wonderful rain today - the yard needed it!
2. Three charity quilts quilted
3. Flowers!
4. A hot soaking bath and a glass of wine
5. A new Quilt Sampler magazine



Fiona said...

Your garden is looking great - and hopefully the sore back will go away soon.

Elaine Adair said...

Been there, done that, but YOUR results are far better than MY results.

Pain? Yeppers - I am wondering when it's time to sell the home and move into a condo, and let the "keepers" do the lawn work. Getting up and down off the ground it just getting to be ridiculous - and I don't want the neighbors to know what an old fogie I'm getting to be!

The Chicken Lady said...

Wow, I'm feeling inspired to do SOMETHING in my yard. We live in a military house, so it's not MY yard, but I have to look at it. I hate to put too much money into it, but I want a pretty place to live. I have to go to Walmart later, I might just have to buy some little petunias! :) I hope your body is feeling better now! My 85 year old neighbor in WA would work out in her yard for hours. We'd have to go out and make her go inside, because she'd be in the hot sun. Plants are addicting!

Libby said...

Just think of the joy you'll have each time you come home or look out your window . . . and you have inspired me to get to work on some VERY neglected areas of my own yard *s*

Kim said...

As I was reading your post, I thought you were describing my life--except I haven't quite gotten to the point where I'm completely fed up with the wasteland my garden has become since I started quilting. But what a good idea to hire someone to come in and do all the boring and hard stuff! I'll have to look into that. Want to come over and help since you're an expert now? I'll give you a little time to recover from all those aches and pains first! LOL! Absolutely beautiful result!

Rose Marie said...

You're ahead of me ... I'm still weeding my garden. Guess we'll be seeing photos of your garden as it matures and flowers this summer. I know what you mean about a sore all over body. :o)

Tazzie said...

The garden looks lovely Patti, it must make you happy every time you see it. I've never been much of a gardener, but always appreciate a nice one.

Betty said...

Patti your gardens are wonderful!! Wa state is so beautiful. lush and green!
The quilt with the bunny is delightful, his nose looks fine to me!

Holly said...

Your yard it beautiful!!! I love a nice yard and flower gardens like that.

Joanne said...

The yard is looking lovely. I feel your aches and pains along with you -- I've been trying to get my flower beds finished too. My plan is to get them finished, then walk around outside often enough to pull a weed or two as they occur instead of waiting till the weeds take it all over again!