May 01, 2008


Oh, yeah, passed out over a collection of seed catalogs. Right. Well, I’ve since regained consciousness just in time to gear up for a little juggling act.

This Spring has seen not only the reawakening of much loved perennials, but a renewed venture into kitchen remodeling that had been put on hold for, oh, about two or three years now. Of course, if the kitchen had its way, it would have junked itself years before that. But since it isn’t responsible to pay the bills and create time where none exists, that decision making was left to us.

Once we made the commitment, however, **Sounds of carousel kaliope music**“Let The Games Begin! Step up folks and see the little lady juggle contractors and perennials all with one hand tied behind her back because she put her shoulder out shoveling wet compost. And in the center ring, see her also juggle blindfolded because she couldn't bear to see yet another replacement cabinet door being marched down her driveway by the Fed Ex guy." (After the 7th delivery of yet another replacement door, the guy actually asked me if the cabinet people were building my cabinets one at a time).

As anyone knows who’s tred the dark waters of kitchen renovations and come out with heads barely above water, it’s a journey rife with anxiety, frustration, depression and, oh yeah, anger. In the beginning, more than just a few people forewarned: “Boy, if the two of you can stay together after this, then you know you’ve got one strong marriage!” Could it really be that bad I thought? **Shakes head, sniffles and wipes away an errant tear** I remember asking a similar naive question about the first tomato hornworm I saw and decided to invoke my usual ‘live and let live’ tactics I apply to most other aspects of gardening. After two days of unfettered interference on my part, that horned beast had shredded my lone Brandywine into fine heirloom lace and entirely peppered what leaves that remained with black mini polka dots, which I came to learn was frass or Mr. Hornworm’s fecal remains of my lovely, heirloom, tastiest-of-all and summarily, ingested, Brandywine. In other words, heed the learned advice of others who've 'been there and done that'. In the case of kitchen rennovations: Be Afraid! Be Very, Very Afraid!

Kitchen kapers and ensuing hyjinks (I'm delusional from even the low VOC paint fumes) demands 100% of your attention and nearly as much of your time and energy. If you're a gardener, that means making some additional tough decisions. Despite the forgiving and independent nature of loyal perennials, they still need a certain amount of support and guidance from the hand of their gardener to aid and ease them out of winter dormancy into their healthiest spring rebirth. Whole leaves that had missed the rake and shredder and lay clumped like a wet mat upon their crowns could rot them out if left too long. Paths needed clearing, beds restructuring, weeding, recomposting. There was timely pruning of herbaceous perennials’ seed heads and stalks stripped bare by birds as well as cutting back of woodies and shrubs. (I think I still missed one or two buddleias. Good news/bad news for having so many of them).

There’s only a certain window of opportunity for these tasks, and it can close quite quickly and unexpectedly especially if we’re surprised with an inordinately warm early spring compliments of Global Warming. So, despite their delusions of total independence, perennials still need some kindly - and the aforementioned: timely - assistance. Not unlike the grown child who thinks they know it all and shun the assistance of a wizened elder until they need financial support. In the case of perennials, it’s when they need the support of garden stakes, watering, mulching, hand-picking of beetles and soapy sprays to cleanse them of aphids.

This kitchen-garden juggling left me feeling torn in two directions at once. And no time to decide which needed attention first and how the heck I was going to do both at the same time if it was a tie. Do I move those perennials before they reach the underside of my eaves? Or do I paint the bottom half of the chair rail in the dining area of my kitchen? Do I agonize over which annuals to chose for the half-gazillion hanging baskets and planters that some garden gnome decided I need to fill each year? Or do I agonize over the seemingly endless parade of door-replacements? Decisions.

And so, I made my decision. Along with perennials and annuals and herbs…I’ve decided I’m also growing a clone. One of us will merrily skip in the garden. (Well, shuffle.) While the other paints, spackles, grouts, argues with contractors and waits for the Fed Ex guy.

I think I’ll let the clone handle all the latter. I’d rather skip. (Well, shuffle.)