Tromp and Dig

Miniature gnome under Japanese painted fernThree years ago a Master Gardener described my garden as eclectic, semi-formal cottage. She toured my garden last year and said it looked wonderful considering I was raising my three-year-old granddaughter and advocating for a sibling group of six foster children. (A seventh sibling was born this year.)

As I’ve mentioned, my garden was featured on several garden tours, the last in 2011 when our youngest child had been out of the home for five years. There wasn’t a weed in sight or a bud that dared not open as nearly a hundred people wandered around the garden discussing plants and garden design. Candace Clark, a renowned regional artist, used brushes and oil paint to transplant dianthus and lilies to canvas.

I wouldn’t mind if the people who viewed my garden on the tours stopped by today. I’d have to run crime scene tape around the woodchuck burrow to prevent broken ankles. I mean the fox den. Our neighbor was walking his dog several nights ago and said his dog started barking and chased after a fox. The fox ran into the woodchuck’s burrow.

This tour will be a DIY tour because I’ll be hiding in the Red-tipped photinias and crape myrtles to gauge reactions to the upright twigs and sticks placed in uneven lines and half-circles by the pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and miniature roses. I’ll be keeping count of the eye rolls and grimaces when the cutesy frog, bunny and gnome “statues” are observed under the coral bells (heuchera) and Japanese painted fern.

I hope folks appreciate the new garden additions—the fairy houses, big wheel, trike, buckets, scoops, bubbles, bug house, jump rope, hula hoop, Disney Princess trowels, gloves and garden rakes. Perhaps I’ll need hazard signs but I doubt it; these kid accouterments are all Day-Glo pink, orange, purple and yellow.

Those who don’t compliment Eden’s sparkle chalk drawings on the garage wall and truck, who celebrate their birthdays but don’t remember being a kid, will be diagnosed with long-term memory loss. When the terra cotta pot succulent garden is spotted on the hood of the car, the floral rain gauge sculpture (minus the glass measurement tube) discovered on top of the lilac bush, the iron butterfly sculpture located upside down in the birdbath planter, giving the appearance of a dead blackbird; there will be screams, from me.

My fellow Master Gardeners may be surprised to find me hiding in the crape myrtle bed; it’s one of only four weed-free beds in the garden. Most would be curious about the holes in the uneven bed. I had no trouble finding the cause. I caught my grandchildren and two neighbor children digging for bugs. My heart rate climbed while RJ explained he’d given the kids permission to “gently” turn the soil.

I muttered in my outdoor voice as I marched to the kids. I told them they could tromp around and dig to their hearts content in the English ivy bed. Sure the ground was hard as a rock but hard ground needs to be worked and they have lots of energy. RJ said they were too young to wield pic axes.

Naturally the insects the kids dug out of the weed-free bed died in their bughouse sanctuary. I dumped their bodies back in the bed and consoled myself with the thought that they were enriching the (disturbed) soil. The next day there were more holes and the bughouse was full of squiggling earthworms, snails, potato bugs and caterpillars. I released all but the snails in my square foot garden after Eden fell asleep. (Did anybody care enough to release the bugs trapped in my bughouse when I was little?)

It rained again last night. After RJ mows the lawn this afternoon, I’ll redirect the kids to their new digging spot in the nicest section of grass.  I’m going to hide in the red-tipped photinias and crape myrtles and gauge RJ’s reaction.

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Jules Jacob

julie ginkgoJulie "Jules" Jacob is a contemporary poet who often writes about dichotomous conditions and relationships among humans and the natural world. Her poems are recently featured or forthcoming in Plume Poetry, The Tishman Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rust + Moth, Yes Poetry and elsewhere. She is the author of The Glass Sponge chapbook with select poems featured at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts and Le Moulin à Nef where she was a resident of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Poetry Workshop.

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