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The Painful Truth
by Eleanor Tylbor
by Eleanor Tylbor

email: ejul1@yahoo.com

Eleanor Tylbor has been a freelance writer and columnist for more than twenty years. A resident of Laval, Quebec, Canada, she began her career as a columnist writing for weekly papers and continues to freelance a column covering local news for “The Chomedy News.”

She has also freelanced articles for Internet sites in addition to providing human-interest pieces for various dailies, and is a monthly contributor to the IcanGarden.com site, sharing her humorous observations and gardening-angst with gardening aficionados.

She is now into balcony gardening.

Blog The (Somewhat) Complete Gardener


June 29, 2003

In retrospect there was no Spring this year. Winter seemed to linger forever with cold temperatures and snow lasting well into April. This was a mixed blessing being that the perennials were slow to put in an appearance, which in turn meant that my garden would peak later than usual, or expected.

Under normal conditions the garden hits its horticultural high point in May with a flourish of color and growth spurts, to be followed by a slow decline thereafter. The problem as I wrote in a previous article, lays within my clay soil, and this was the year to fix the situation once and for all. Various articles and discussions with people (all right - my neighbor Mary who has the best soil in these parts) indicates that clay soil requires the addition of sphagnum peat moss. The non-gardener in the family was instructed to pick up a bag or two of the stuff, and he responded by bringing home this gigantic square block of the substance. Although it looked cumbersome to handle, at least it didn't weigh a lot and was relatively easy to drag around and lift in and out of a wheelbarrow.

It should be mentioned that I lead a relatively sedentary life style especially this year, due to the unseasonably cold weather. However, this factor was not taken into consideration and with dogged determination, peat moss met soil in under three hours. Upon completion of the task there were warning twinges in the back of my legs that slowly spread to my lower back, and then traveled upwards and settled into my shoulders. At that point and to avert possible pain, I took a hot shower and relaxed my body on the couch, convinced that this would solve any aches. Not!

That same evening we joined friends for supper at a small, intimate Italian restaurant. It was a little disturbing when my legs refused to bend under the table. Instead they were placed straight out on the side making it difficult for people to pass, especially the waiter. As if this wasn't enough it was next to impossible to hold a knife and fork, due to excessive trembling caused by my clutching the shovel earlier in the day. Let's just say that eating pasta was an interesting experience. A sudden and uncontrolled muscle spasm resulted in my wineglass shattering, while clinking glasses to celebrate the arrival of warm weather. To sum it all up if you had asked me where all the arm and leg muscles and joints of my body were located - I could have told you with excellent accuracy and without having to look down! My next door neighbor, Kathleen, shook her head incredulously while observing my strolls around the garden leaning on a make-shift stick for support, until I could make it on my own.

The second garden-related injury occurred the following week as a result of planting all 40 flats of annuals in one morning. Why, you may well ask, would a person consistently punish a body when the task could have been performed over a period of time. The explanation is simple if somewhat illogical, it's because...the flowers were... there...waiting to be planted. Placement plays a very important part of the ritual, and the flower heads must face the onlooker even if the body is contorted into pretzel-like positions, hence the return of pain - extreme pain.

Visually, the end result has a lot of eye appeal with the color scheme ranging from pale pinks to hot pinks and pale yellow accents. The best part, though, is that they are still in the land of the living and show no signs of doing the usual dance-of-the-wilt that occurs once the mid-summer sun beats down.

Due to the extensive amount of rain, something interesting is happening in the back garden bed. I'm one of "those" people who pick up interesting flower seeds that strike my fancy, during walks. My philosophy is that seeds are on neutral territory and chances are that no one will miss a few here and there, anyway. This means that over time I've acquired quite a number of potential-plants-to-be of unknown name and origin, which have been added to the flowerbeds over time. Most of them to the best of my knowledge rarely produced any results, but this year due to the frequent downpours, unknown species are popping up everywhere. Who knows what's growing and hopefully, they're all legal.

Today while checking out their progress I could not help but notice that many of them are facing the wrong direction, due to gale force winds last night. Hopefully, there won't be a re-occurrence of last week's pain but now another about-face is necessary. It's all totally understandable to most gardeners...am I right?



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