Monday, February 18, 2013

The Slow Road to a Garden and Patience

I think gardening requires passion and patience, and the two rarely conflict for me, largely because I lack all sense of patience. But I do have the passion bit down. I like to think I'm developing some level of patience, if only because getting the actual garden to match the one I envision in my head is taking some time.

Once we nearly sweat to death clearing the gargantuan holly bushes on the side of the house, we were amazed by how wide the side yard actually was. I started getting ideas. I began hatching plans. Those plans involved arbors. Unfortunately, that required my first exercise in patience, since we would have to submit our plans to the neighborhood ARC (architectural review committee) for approval before we could get started. I wanted a narrow arbor for the entrance and a wider one for a swing at the end of the garden. I wanted another small one at the gate in the veg garden.

The Not-So-Secret Garden, pre arbors

I had help building the large swing arbor and was very grateful for the help. But the two small arbors I built on my own. I had this great idea that I should build them in the driveway because it's flat (sloped, yes...uneven, no). I didn't want to create a Dr. Suess arbor to match our palm tree (see previous post) by building in the yard. This really didn't present much of a problem for the veg garden arbor because it is a short 10 foot walk from driveway to placement. I just dragged it in place. The other arbor, however, would be placed approximately 150 feet away. I had to get through the gate into the backyard, then walk to the end of the house, then to the end of the pool enclosure, around the enclosure, up the other side, and then to the intended resting place.

I believe I've mentioned that I'm impatient. I didn't want to wait for the muscle of the house to return from playing golf. So I turned the arbor on its side, crouched to step into the structure, and placed my shoulders under the vertical beams, which were then extending behind me. I stood up. The arbor was still on the ground. So the weight of the structure was one problem, and now my short stature was creating another. No problem, I thought, I'll just carry it by walking on my tiptoes. Yes, Becky. Genius move. That should be super easy. At least I was in for a good exercise for my calves, and I was sure that was the last of the obstacles. As I started to move, however, I noticed that the narrow gap between the vertical beams made it impossible for me to take normal strides. I suddenly became a tiny woman with a 7' high x 5'wide x 2' deep stockade on me, tiptoeing with a 6" I was trying to sneak up on someone. Yet I remained undeterred. Bouncing along, I made my first few steps.

Here's where it gets a little strange. As I was moving from driveway to gate, 3 separate neighbors passed by, each of them in their turn.

"Hello, Becky!" they said.

I could barely turn my head to see them, what with the house on my shoulders, but I managed a wave and a hello. One doesn't want to appear rude.

"How are you doing?" they asked.

Really? Does it look like I'm in a position for a chit-chat? I replied with a less-than-convincing, "Oh, I'm fine. And you?" Never once did any of them offer to help or ask why I had a bunch of lumber hanging off of me, as if they didn't even see it. I thought bitterly of that the entire way. When I arrived at my destination, I really struggled to line up the posts with the holes I had dug, drop the posts into the holes, and push the arbor upright. But I did. And yes, I am, in some ways, the muscle of the house, too. I'm just the shorter muscle. It makes a big difference.

My Great Burden, the Arbor (and a slightly more secretive garden)

I will attempt to include current photos of the Secret Garden soon. It will just require me to pull out a ladder and take an aerial shot. It's getting that secret. The plants are maturing and stretching out, making themselves quite comfortable.

Peeping through the Herbaceous Wall

The vegetable garden was still looking a bit shabby until recently. My somewhat limited gardening skills were taxed by the constant weed problem. When I built the raised planter beds (necessary, I think, for anyone who has all sand for soil), I placed weed barrier fabric underneath the planters, and I think the weeds took that as a declaration of war. They were, no doubt, the superpower then.

The Vegetable and Weed Garden (and arbor in the background)

We are currently in the process of finishing up the paver path, another exercise in patience because I had the bright idea of making all the pavers myself. One set per week. 30 sets. We're staining them this coming weekend. And another phase of the transformation will be complete. My own transformation into a patient person, in all honesty, is really moving along much more slowly. 


  1. I can finally say that you have both passion and patience for gardening, because you were able to turn your backyard into a useful garden space. It might have taken you a lot of time, but at least you made your plans a reality. The arbor swing looks beautiful there. I’d love to sit and swing there. ->Shona Martinez

  2. Oh, Shona, thank you so much. I would love nothing more than to sit with someone on my swing! We could plot the next mission in the garden together!

  3. Your description of you hauling that trellis around sounds so much like me that I laughed out loud! I feel your pain and triumph!

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets herself into some tricky spots!