Let me dig into the depths as the plumbers delve into my front garden in order to reveal, eight feet below the surface, the broken clay of our ancient drains.
This is a disaster. Mess and muck. Back-up in the basement drain. Holes dug into the basement's concrete as well as in the garden. Not to mention the expense. Holy cow! The expense!
But I am an optimist. A Pollyanna, some have said (but they didn't know me very well). Let me re-phrase: I can give the appearance, at times, of being an optimist, and this is one of those times.
Over and over I have complained about my front garden that (totally by accident) contains almost twenty invasive species—as well as an impenetrable network of maple-tree roots. This spring the right-hand side of the yard was totally out of control. The oregano was springing into the area I like to reserve for the lovage. The lemon balm was engulfing the little sage plants. The wild violets (and I SWEAR that they weren't my fault; I never planted a one of them) enjoyed their two days of romantic blooms and were spreading through the entire plot. Ditto the lily of the valley. In the meantime, the bee-balm and the sundrop primroses, which I adore, were cowering in terror. And I haven't even mentioned the garlic chives, which, unlike their well-mannered clumps of chive cousins, shoot their little black seeds into the universe then wave their flat green shoots to the sky and dare me to root them out.
And when I have tried to correct any of this in the past, even one square foot of the spreading tangle, I have been defeated by the roots of the maple tree, which stopped my trowel at every thrust.
Now, enter the plumbers, that pair of strong-backed Romanians who arrive to do the dirty work for their sweet-talking employers. Abetted by axes and knives in addition to their shovels, they dig (for two full days) a pit 5 x 2 feet and 8 feet deep, slicing through roots, dumping garlic chives and oregano and violets on the tarp lying in the neighbours' driveway. The plants are soon smothered by the mound of dirt (80 cubic feet) that covers them.
I am no ninny. Having experienced drain repairs in other sections of the garden over the last thirty years, I was ready for the devastation. As soon as the sweet-talking bosses left the premises bearing that expensive contract, I took my trusty trowel and dug up as many of the bee-balm, sage, and sundrop plants as I could, heeling them into a big box of soil. They sat in the shade and waited during the two days of digging.
The workers left, having piled that ugly, sandy earth back on top of the repaired drain. I shoveled six inches of sandy soil off the top of the entire area and replaced it with topsoil and manure. Then I replanted my favourites.
For the first time ever, shoveling and planting were a joy. There wasn't a root in sight! My trowel cut through the new soil like a hot knife through butter. Now my sundrop, sage, and bee balm are nicely planted in fresh root-free earth. The oregano is recovering from having been squashed flat by workmen's boots. The lovage survived nicely. The garden is beautiful, if a bit sparse, and will become even more so as the months go by.
It was an expensive way to clear out that tangled mess of plants (there must be a cheaper way), but it's an ill wind that blows no good.
Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor