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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo took advantage of his day off today to get the ol’ garden cleaned up and ready to go for the new year (read: raze everything to stumps and clear out all the deadwood).  I’m sure Mr. Washington will understand, given that he was a man of the soil, too.

As I went out this morning, I heard Mrs. Robbo grumbling under her breath.  Mrs. R has never liked Robbo’s garden, occasionally suggesting we should sod it over or even install a tennis court.  Even though I vehemently protest against these ideas every time she floats them, I can’t say that I don’t understand her attitude:  In all the years we’ve lived at Port Swiller Manor, I’ve never yet worked it up to anything near what I want it to be.  At its best in high summah, with all the butterfly bushes in full bloom and the place covered with tiger swallowtails, a few monarchs, various bees, and the odd hummingbird, it has a definite sort of shabby, dryad loveliness.  The rest of the year?  Not so much.

Robbo’s Ideal

In fact, I know exactly what I want to do with the thing. I want to re-survey the central path and put a border of side-by-side bricks around it.  I want to pull out most of what’s in it right now and put in a series of raised beds, although I plan to leave butterfly bushes interspersed between them.  Then I want to build up the soil in each bed to specific levels of acidity or alkalinity to correspond with whatever flowers I decide to put in.  Then the whole thing has to be heavily critter-proofed. (The deer don’t come in the yard anymore because of the dog, but Mr. Bunny Foo-Foo sometimes does and the groundhogs are a real menace.)  This will involve a lot of fencing that I might even electrify. (Sistah does this to keep the foxes out of her chicken yard.)

 

 

Something Closer to Robbo’s Reality

All this, of course, will involve both time and money.  I don’t mind about the time so much, since I’d hire somebody to do the basics for me.  (One of the benefits of having reached my mid-50’s is not feeling I have to prove anything by trying to do it all myself.) The money, on the other hand?  Well, what with the kids still on our coattails for at least the next few years (even as I type this, Mrs. R is on the phone haggling with a dealer over a possible car for Youngest), it’s just too much of a stretch.  Just for laughs, a year or two ago I got an estimate on just some of the more basic first steps.  Even that I found to be unconscionable.

Ah, well.  I’m perfectly content to wait, even if Mrs. R isn’t.  In the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novel The Ionian Mission, the British Admiral commanding the blockade of Toulon, who is very old and sick, longs for nothing more than for the French to come out and fight before he dies or is sent home.  He refers to the waters between the inner and outer squadrons of the British Fleet as the “Sea of Hopes Deferred”.   I’m beginning to think of my garden as a “Hope Deferred”, too, but with any luck I won’t have to wait quite so long for its realization.

Incidentally, that “Ideal” photo comes from this site, which looks to have some pretty good ideas….

UPDATE:  You may be asking yourself, “Self? Why doesn’t Ol’ Robbo go for a gradual transformation….like, say, one new bed per season?”  Well, that idea has been slowly creeping into my braims, too.  There may well be much in it.

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