As I may have mentioned 50 times or so lately, I have been very busy for the last few weeks and the garden has not gotten much attention. Other than the most brief foray to pick the last of the raspberries for breakfast or cut a few stems for a quick arrangement I have not ventured out there at all. That is all about to change as fall clean-up is looming large over my head.
Every time I look out there and wonder when the crew will arrive to cut back, dig up, prune, rake leaves and spread lime and /or compost , I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because ,honestly, that crew is me. Usually I am not bothered by the workload at all. I leave lots of things standing for the birds to have cover and seeds and to provide winter interest so the perennial bed work is minimal. I don’t bring in all the garden ornaments, just what will break during freeze thaw cycles or things made of wood that will rot if left out in all the snow. I don’t do the heavy pruning until the dead of late winter …in my high boots and mittens, wading through feet of snow. But the fact of the matter is that even though the chores are minimal, the time I have to devote to them is nonexistent. Between lectures and workshops, college visits with my older daughter, an out of town wedding, and various other commitments I am wondering how I can possibly get it done.
Today I started a triage style list starting with the things that absolutely positively have to get done or that should have been done already.
Bulbs that remain unplanted, expensive pottery that has to get stored before it cracks from the weather, a few plants that need to go in the ground or just went in the ground and need water as there has been zero rainfall for what seems like ever, you get the idea.
Then I moved onto things that should get done, but if they don’t, all will be okay…like raking leaves , spreading compost, and cutting back the daylily beds.
Just when I was starting to feel like I was getting a handle on the situation and heading out to start the first few items, Wil announced that he had made an appointment to have the septic system pumped ( an utterly disgusting ,but given the fact that 4 loads of laundry and 7 showers running a day here are the norm, necessary chore) and we had to get the cover dug out today between our weekly football watching date and going to the market ( made necessary by the same people who brought us the showers and laundry).
Of course you know where this is going if you have a septic system… no one ever remembers where the cover is. Oh, we have a general idea, but as for specifically digging a small hole just to excavate said cover in the few minutes available to us today, not a chance in hell.
What ended up happening is just like every other story of my life, painfully comical. Wil started to dig in the garden bed we were sure it was buried in, but he has an injured hand , so who do you think had to assume shovel duty? ( me). We enlisted the help of the oldest shower hogging laundry producing food guzzler ,CJ, to dig hoping we could get it done faster. CJ and I unearthed the entire top of the tank EXCEPT the cover in the fist 30 minutes. Moving further to the left we struck the large cement paver I had put right under the mulch three years ago to mark the cover’s location that had somehow managed to work its way to 2 feet under the ground. It was then we realized we had left ourselves no more room to put shoveled out dirt in order to get to the cover that lay beneath it and actually had for the last few minutes been piling dirt ON TOP of it.
A little dirt shuffling and a lot of swearing later, we finally managed to find and dig out the cover. I stayed outside to replant all the things we had to rip out of the garden while digging, the guys went in to catch up on the football game, and while staring in the general direction of the large hole was thinking about
a. how did I forget where the GD thing was for the fifth time since we moved here
b .how the hell did that paver we placed to help us locate the cover get so deep down in the soil?
c. why in the name of all things garden-y did I plant perennials on top of the cover??? and most importantly
d. omg omg omg aren’t there actually TWO covers that we need access too?
I quietly mentioned this to Wil when I came in , and we made the decision to convince ourselves, that no, there were not in fact two covers , and even if there were why couldn’t it be emptied via the one. I will try to plead ignorance and hope and pray that if I am correct, I can beg or pay the people who come to pump it to find the second cover and dig it out. For reasons that boggle the mind, the last plant left standing, the last plant that may actually be growing over the other cover ,is an 6 foot tall 4 foot wide clump of the ornamental grass miscanthis sinesis, whose root system will take a pick axe and Paul Bunyan to extricate……and now I will leave you wondering if you think I know even the tiniest little bit about what I am doing over here.
And BTW Happy Halloween! Halloween arrangement made using winterberry ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’, calicarpa dichtoma ‘Early Amethyst’, solanum atropurpureum a nasty thorny garden oddity nicknamed Malevolence (wear gloves my friend! there are even spiny thorns protruding from the leaves) millet, ornamental pepper ‘Black Olive’, , seedpods from baptisia australis, seedheads from helenium atumnale, spathifolium , and ‘Matchstick’ and ‘Copper Penny ‘mums