Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of today’s gorgeous weather to finally get out and clean up the raspberry canes, which, after suffering a fair bit from the cold and snow this past winter, are having what in sports would be called a rebuilding year.

As I pulled out dead canes and uprooted weeds, I found myself thinking about a remark the M-i-L made to Mrs. Robbo last week when the in-laws came to visit Port Swiller Manor on their annual spring migration north.  Apparently, she took a look at the front of the house and said, “Has Robbo given up on landscaping, then?”


As a matter of fact, there was some justification for such a remark.  As it happens, this year’s project will be to replace the front sidewalk and to put in a new planting bed along the front of the house, while at the same time putting in some new drains to help stem the flash floods we get from the downpours around here which have played merry hell with the current bed.  Given that most of the current bushes (a set of ancient, declining azaleas) and flowers are going to be torn out within the next week or two, I don’t see any real point in wasting any energy on trying to keep up with it all.

But still, this is something of a tender subject to me.

Having occupied Port Swiller Manor for nearly 14 years now, I’ve come to recognize that my efforts at gardening really constitute more of a rear-guard delaying action against the encroaching jungle than anything else.   But then again, there’s only me to do it, and given the lack of time, money and professional reinforcements (unlike some people – which see above, I don’t happen to have the luxury of a truck full of Salvadorans showing up twice a week to help me out), I think I do a tolerable job at least keeping things neat.

Plus, when I do manage to pull something off –  a good blooming on the climbing rose or the peonies, a garden absolutely full of butterflies flittering around the Buddleia at midsummer, a successful installation of trellis and jasmine – I have the satisfaction of knowing it was the result of my own effort, and not of some hired pros.

I’d much rather engage in honest, if humble and only modestly successful cultivation than live in a showplace and pay off somebody else to look after it.