Working in the Jungle

Noone can accuse me for having green fingers or being a natural gardener. The proof of that can be seen when walking in to our house. That said, I wish it was different. When we first moved here, I was all “gung ho” about gardening. I sat and drew plans of how our flower beds were to be organized and planted. I had to fight my husband, who has grown up with a lazy mum who thought the garden  only had one purpose and that was for her dog to use it as a loo. He did not want to make any flower beds but just have lawn, front, side and back. But I insisted that if I were to live in a house, then I wanted a garden. So the first year, I bought plants and that summer we had a lovely garden. Well, our flower bed beside the house flourished in all sorts of colours and our next door neighbour was jealous, since she had only planted green things that were not to carry any flowers. That summer I also learned the hard lesson that not all plants and seeds thrive in our bad soil. Only the stronger ones do, since the soil is most foul. Full of building materials and hard as clay.

The following year, the difficulties began. I was tired, some plants did not make the winter and some seeds had only given flowers for one year. You could say, that I was a little bit disillusioned since the majority of what I had planted the year before never survived or came up. So little by little the garden started to slip. My energy has not increased with the years and after buying expensive plants that died almost immediately, I felt it was all a waste. I let the ones that enjoyed living in our garden stay, but I did not involve myself in the garden anymore. It had lost its allure. I drool when I watch the gardens of “Midsomer Murder” and other gardens in British TV-programs, but I have given up of ever having anything of the sort around my house. The energy is just not there and when I might have the energy, my head can not handle being out in the sun.

Over the past weeks, our life has been a nightmare. D. who has taken it upon himself to mow the lawn, since his dad’s hay fever is so bad, has not had a single moment to spare for the lawn. It started to look like a wild field and let’s say I was very ashamed of facing the neighbours. Not just that, the flower beds are an absolute eye sore. Noone can accuse them of being pretty at all. Most flowers are dead. Friends have brought none blooming plants that do not bring a smile to my face! And the grass has joined it all, suffocating some of the plants, so they are no more. Thursday, was Ascension Day which meant two days off work for my husband and two days off school for the children. My plans for the two days were: Go through my summer clothes and pack away all things winter. And catch up with my blog. My plans were to be altered though. Thursday morning I chased my husband out to weed in the flower beds. But he started mowing the lawn instead, since our son did not stir a fin. When the latter came down, I told him “Go weed!”. Reluctantly he went outside and then came in as a thunder-cloud. He had gone out to the vegetable garden and started pulling up a strawberry plant and his dad got upset. So, D. spent the rest of the day up in his room, mad at us.

“Dollie” went to stay at a friend’s house Wednesday night, but we had an agreement that things needed to be done here at home, so no staying at that girl’s house to avoid helping out. She came home at 11:30 and asked what I wanted her to do. “Go weed”. She sat down by the piano and played “Schindler’s List” instead. That is about how depressed I felt that day too! I walked in to “Cookie’s” room and told her to get out of bed and weed the flower beds. She of course refused. By now I was so mad I went out to inspect the flower beds. For years, I have watched dead branches/twigs in the rose bushes and these things imagethat look like they belong to a rose hip bush. I decided to get the secateurs out and start cutting those rose hip thingies off the rose bushes at least. Even though I knew my head would kill me, being in the sun. Then I informed “Dollie” that I was going to count this as my ten-hour project for the Personal Progress program I have started.

I guess, this needs an explanation: In church, when a girl turns 12, she goes over to what is called Young Women. They have this program called “Personal Progress”. It’s supposed to teach them to be more spiritual and prepare them for a life in the Lord’s service. It is supposed to prepare them for womanhood, motherhood and everything female. But also teach them how to grow as person’s and how to grow a strong testimony of the gospel. They get a little book with eight areas they are supposed to work on. The first for example is Faith. If you work on the Faith section of the book, you have to do six different tasks and then a ten-hour project that you basically choose yourself, but they do give suggestions that pertain to faith. When you have completed that section, which has the colour of white, you get a white ribbon to attach to a metal book mark that you are supposed to keep in your scriptures. In the end you will have eight ribbons in all sorts of colours. The girls get the book when they enter Young Women and they sort of have six years to finish the program. BUT when they started this program some years ago, mothers were encouraged to work on the program with their daughters. I did not. I just panicked when I saw the tasks and felt that I could not do them! “Dollie” worked hard and did the purple section because she loves the colour of purple. That section is called Integrity. So she received her bookmark and her purple ribbon and then she did not do anything further.

One of my friends has decided to do the program and is completely obsessed with the idea. She tried to coax me in to doing it as well and I must say that I was luke warm. But then I pondered and decided that yes, why not. I doubt they will give me the ribbons, since the teachers gave her the book but refused to give me one. Good thing I am married to the church librarian! He let me have one of the English ones since we do not have any English-speaking Young Women in the congregation! I started looking at the first section of Faith and me wanting to do this, has sort of given “Dollie” new energy to work on the program as well. The first Sunday, we did one of the tasks together and actually it has brought us closer to each other, as we struggle, trying to figure out how to do these things. Her having little time and me being too shy to do a lot of the things.

Under the category “Choice and Accountability”, one of the projects suggested is: “Choose to be more orderly in your home by completing a cleaning or organizing project. Record in your journal how doing this helped you in other areas in your life.”. Both “Dollie” and I went out to the garden and attacked the rose bushes, or they attacked us I should say, with their thorns. We discussed it and if this is not becoming more orderly, taking care of a disgraceful looking garden that all neighbours can see, cleaning it up from all weeds and dead things and organizing it by planting new things and moving things that have self planted themselves where we do not want them, then what is? So, Ascension Day, we spent three and a half hours of back-breaking labour in the garden. To my sorrow, I discovered that all lavender bushes between the rose bushes have been suffocated by grass. An elderberry tree had self-planted itself and T. spent hours trying to get that out of the ground without hurting the rose-bush it had planted itself next to. We discovered that the hops that we planted at the entrance to our garden, had spread itself to the rush bushes at the other end and had used them to climb on. We had to pull up so much. And I had “Dollie” get the saw out, to saw off dead branches, yes they were that thick, off the rose bushes. Our conclusion after hours with the rose bushes on the left side of the front door is, that when autumn arrives, we have to cut three rose bushes down. Even if it breaks my heart and makes me worried. We have never dared doing so, thinking they will not bloom the next year. But the fact is that now the bushes are top-heavy. We have one meter of brown branches off the ground and THEN comes the green leaves and roses. Not a pretty sight at all! We can’t do it now, or we will kill the poor bushes that have been with us for 13 years, but now when everything dead has been cut away, the bushes look fragile and ridiculous!

After an hour, “Cookie” realized that we were working on a project, that she should be working on as well, so she joined us. Trying to weed in the front of the house, where the only thing that will ever grow, are the Daffodils and Pearl Hyacinths, around Easter. She gave up on the weeds out there and joined us on the big rose-bush on the right side of the door. It has gone completely mad. In its description, it says it will become at the most, 1 m tall. Well, that rose-bush has misunderstood what it is supposed to become. It is more than 1,50 m tall and it is just hanging in all directions, completely wild. Things in that flower bed has gone completely mad! I just want to tear my hair out. How could I let it go this imagefar? There are plants called “lambs’ ears” and they have self planted themselves wherever. So has the hollyhocks that really should have kept to the wall, since they need that support. I planted black  and white ones but they no longer come up black nor white. What comes up is yellow, red and pink hollyhocks! Go figure! And the blue delphiniums who are really fragile, since they grow so tall, have also planted themselves where they blow to pieces.

Something has to be done! Thursday evening, I sat down with an aching back, looking like I had been in a fight with a cat, my arms badly scratched up, and my thoughts could not leave the garden. What to do? Friday, “Dollie” and I spent an entire hour cutting up all the branches in to pieces, so that we could put them in plastic bags and take them to the recycle station in town. Everybody else had the same idea, Friday, so there was a long queue to get in. It was “Gubby”, T. and me that went and afterwards we headed to a garden shop. I needed a new pair of secateurs, since the one’s we had, were really bad after having been left out and rusting. We invested in long gardening gloves for me that stretch up to the elbows, secateurs, a little mini shovel and a three-pronged tool. I need to attack that grass that is as tall as hay, in the flower beds! I bought three new lavender plants, seeds for black hollyhocks, blue delphiniums and a new rose-bush that is supposed to spread, but not get tall. In pink that is supposed to turn lavender after a while. Sounds pretty if it manages to survive in our soil. T. bought a blackberry plant and we got special soil for the plants and special rose soil for the one rose-bush. Coming home, I sat down for another hour of weeding. I sat there and looked at the only living lavender bush. It is huge. But full of sticks. It looks like brown sticks but the strange thing is that at the tip of them, green leaves are flourishing. So I can’t cut it down. And in the middle of it all, is all that horrible grass. At first I wanted to give up, before I even started. Then I started hacking imageaway with the three-pronged tool that I do not know the Swedish name for, nor the English. But it did bite somewhat on the grass! And I started to manhandle the lavender bush. Bending it so I could get to the grass-roots under it and cutting or breaking off  everything that looked dead. By now I have become brutal. This autumn I will go berserker on the rose bushes and that lavender bush. I want growth from the bottom from now on and not top-heavy plants. And as for the lamb ears, hollyhocks and delphiniums… I will try to move them this evening as well as this ugly plant, which I was given, that has spread on both sides of the rose-bush in front of the bathroom window. If they survive, I will be very happy. If they die, so be it. I can not start planting new things in a jungle of plants who have decided to grow where they please. I have always loved order, so I will do my best at creating order. I have four and a half hours left on my personal progress project, which gives me an excuse to be out there instead of doing something else. But I fear that this flower bed project is going to take much more time than that! At least the girls and I, will appreciate the work done. My boys do not agree that it is well spent hours. “Boo” walked around in swim clothes for three days and wanted to wear them under his church clothes yesterday. It was supposed to be a hint hint to his dad to go and purchase swim cards and take them to the council pool. Poor thing, life is tough when one is seven and one’s parents work in the garden instead of taking one to something fun!

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2 responses to “Working in the Jungle

  1. Well, let’s say that I could use the money but to earn money on my writing, I would have to overcome many shortcomings like being a perfectionist for example. And if I was to write something, which others would have to pay for, I am sure I would be struck with performance anxiety OR writer’s block! So best keep it simple, write what is on my mind and not have any prentensions of grandeur.

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