Every mother needs a new bed, right? Comfortable, freshly made up. What if, however, as Princess Diana famously said, it gets very crowded? Over the years, many plants I’d had high hopes for in the bed next to the steps leading down the hill to the back yard—like delicate columbines—had gotten pushed out by more aggressive neighbors, better suited to the steep, shady, rocky site. In fact, some of those aggressive neighbors, the ajuga and lamium, were invading the four-foot-wide band of lawn between the bed and the steps. Solution: kill the lawn and expand the bed.
Helping me with the bed renovation was my Mother’s Day gift from my husband, Julius. Two weeks ago, the lawn guys stripped off the grass. The remains were sprayed with Roundup a few times. Yesterday morning, out came the electric Mantis Tiller, a device Julius saw in an infomercial a few years ago. Yesterday, after a thorough reading of the 164-page manual, was the occasion for its maiden voyage.
Some sweating, a little swearing, a major clog, two blown fuses, half a giant lawn-and-leaf bag filled with roots and twigs. Hand rake, pull out more roots, sift compost from bin, work in compost, rake again. Dig out plants buried by invaders in various spots in the garden. Divide perennials that had gotten too big for their spaces. Line everything up, along with a few pretty finds from Saturday’s Garden Club of Irvington plant sale. Start placing, view from various angles, including through camera viewfinder, adjust, readjust. Get Julius to dig holes, plant. Scrutinize again, move some things around (new holes). Slip and fall down on my butt in the mud. Get up. Scrutinize again. OK, it’s sparse now, but I’ve learned my lessons. These things will grow and fill the space. Pose for photo. Take shower. Change clothes. Enjoy nice tall drink of ice water. Collapse on chaise lounge. Aah. Happy Mother’s Day.