The joy of winter gardening
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
It was getting toward noon on the first Saturday after Christmas, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.
Pondering an imminent departure from deep within the luxurious embrace of our sun-drenched kitchen nook, I was bemused to observe an unruly mob of spirited crows that had converged in the crowns of some prominent fir trees behind the alley.
Switching expeditiously out of my slippers into a pair of operative yard shoes, I popped out our back door with binoculars and headed toward the most advantageous bird-watching position at the south-facing prow of our raised cedar deck.
Although I failed to identify any discernable impetus for the corvid kerfuffle, it only took a few perilous slips and slides across our algae-coated floorboards to jumpstart me into a rigorous course of labor-intensive maintenance activities.
With garden hose at the ready, a jug full of environmentally safe cleansing agent at my side and a heavy-duty bristle brush fused to my right hand, I spent the lion’s share of the next couple hours scouring and swabbing until the lion’s share of our living space was sufficiently denuded of chloroplasts and rendered suitable for extended wet-weather conditions.
On a typical Saturday, an unassisted de-mossing of this caliber would have sufficed as a worthy enough accomplishment on its own.
However, this time, instead of retreating back inside for a nice, long nap, I was compelled to take utmost advantage of the latest rare sun break and bring my most prized Christmas present of the season outside for a field test before the dark clouds returned and started dumping buckets again.
Performing variable branch-cutting experiments with shiny new hand pruners—featuring a contoured rolling handle and a modified cam mechanism—might not be every nature lover’s idea of an afternoon well spent. But once you become locked in a ferocious tit-for-tat struggle to prevent a small army of aggressive woody plants from perpetually overgrowing their allotted bed space and seizing control of your yard, as they tend to do through all four seasons around here, it feels like a hedge trimmer’s paradise.
Within a couple minutes, I was tits-deep in a burgeoning clump of unruly bamboo, gleefully wielding steel blades to eliminate droopy limbs and extraneous canes by the score.
Stimulated by the responsiveness of my versatile new tool, I soon found myself engaged in a progressive flurry of calculated gymnastic-like movements that allowed me to unleash enhanced pruning power upon the deepest interior portions of each successive shaggy green beast I tackled.
Dusky light was fading and a cold drizzle was falling when the Lady of the House cracked the door open and reminded me to secure the chicken coop for the night.
“What happened?” she asked as I came limping in damp and blistered to the dinner table an hour later.
“I won the battle,” I said. “But the bamboo ate my pruners. So that means anywhere between our forsythia bush and the limelight hydrangea is still contested country.”
An Epic Ride
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