Well in the weeds | AspenTimes.com

Well in the weeds

Anna Naeser
Aspen CO, Colorado
Garden pest: One of the watering devices in the shadow of some sundrops (Calylophus sp).

Sometimes I feel like I have created a monster. Maybe I should let the weed grass take over the garden and ask Gerry to mow it once in awhile with his string trimmer, just to keep it neat. I could pull all the growth in a wide circle around the trees and shrubs, so his trimmer wouldn’t bite their ankles and do grievous injury, then fill in the circles with that popular reddish-bark mulch.

The bones of the garden are good. The structural elements, like walls and paths and steps, are all in place; the original rocks will still be there, and the trees and shrubs are mature enough to hold their own. It would look good. We could hire a landscaping contractor to lay heavy-duty irrigation pipe along the top of the slope, with big, pop-up sprinkler heads programmed to direct large arcs of water over it regularly, like a golf course. Keep it all green and lush looking and well-groomed.

At the start of the season, I’d go to the nurseries and pick out some colorful hanging baskets and preplanted containers full of the very latest in showy flowers. We could then spend our summers traveling ” I have always wanted to visit my friend in Italy in the summer ” or take off for weeks into the wilderness or get season’s tickets to the Music Festival and attend every concert in the park. I could read garden books sitting on the porch/patio.

At this moment, I can hear the rush of water from dozens of low-volume sprinkler heads giving a section of thirsty garden a drink. Those particular spray heads aren’t visible because they are buried in the undergrowth, but I can see a neat row of the ugly, black plastic things from my seat at the outdoor table where I’m pounding the laptop. If I push them deeply enough into the ground so they are hidden in the plants and don’t offend me visually, they can’t do the job. One plant gets its own personal bog, while the rest get nothing.

Last year I decided to replace the spray heads that bugged me the most with lengths of drip tubing snaking around the plants. I ordered a 500-foot roll of the tubing, with the drippers spaced 6 inches apart ” in June. If I was going to do it at all, I should have done it in April, when the plants were just beginning to grow, so I could see what I was doing and not leave a trail of destruction. It’s a crazy idea, anyway, when there are so many plants on such uneven terrain. That’s why I have this complicated sprinkler system in the first place.

We had such a long spring and, until recently, the timing of the rain was just perfect. Every time I thought I would need to water, it rained. Once, when it didn’t, I hauled hoses around. That seemed doable until I tried it again this week. Do you have any idea how many billions of leaves there are all over everything, how many flowers, how big everything has grown all of a sudden??

The hoses snarl and kink, flattening plants right and left. I thought I could get the irrigation system going by myself but ended up begging Gerry for help. It has taken him most of the day to get the sprinkler zones up and running properly. He has found all the spray stakes and put them in an upright position. He has cleaned or replaced all the plugged and broken spray heads, lots of them. On Sunday, he says, we can work on them together and make adjustments. Oh, boy, I can hardly wait. Only I can reposition them, or adjust the height of the stakes, because only I know what each plant needs. I feel guilty because in early spring, I went around blithely pulling up and hiding stakes among the new growth so they wouldn’t mar the picture of blooming daffodils and so on. Mar, schmarr, if I don’t irrigate, there won’t be a picture to spoil.

Here I’ve used up my weekly allotment of words, and I haven’t even gotten to the weeds yet, which are germinating with luxurious abandon after the wettest winter in years and the longest, loveliest spring. Sometimes I feel that it isn’t me that has a garden, but that my garden has me.