Today I planned to take a friend to lunch before going to the book launch of In the Garden with Billy, a book I had been looking forward to reading. Jean and I sat on her patio for a few minutes, talking in the warming sun when she mentioned she wished she had asked me to bring a tiller or tool to help break up a contractor’s clay planting bed so she could put a few plants in. Jean has to be an amazing gardener, because her garden is blooming despite the horrible sub-soil clay mess her poor plants have to live in. A couple years ago we planted blueberries, azaleas, a cotoneaster and Knockout roses, all doing well now. Today we made a mad dash to Pike’s to buy soil, mulch and plants, then Jean heated homemade stew and made grilled cheese sandwiches while I used a new pitchfork to break up brick-hard clay. Four bags of topsoil only amended half the bed, but we considered with our time and soil limitations half a bed done fairly well was pretty darn good for today. The other half would be dealt with in spring and just mulched for now. A mature Knockout rose divides the two sides. I planted 22 daffodils where I could dig deep-enough holes and moved some ‘Goodnight Moon’ bearded iris that had spread since the start was brought from my garden. I completed the planting with asters, mums and pansies, then 4 bags of mulch while Jean planted a container with annuals. I managed to scrub most of the dirt off my hands and nails before jumping in the car to get to the book launch.
Was sweating in the garden better than someone bringing me lunch in a restaurant? You betcha, because those flowers will bloom for several weeks, then several years for Jean. The daffodils will be a brilliant surprise come spring. I think that taking Grandma to an all-you-can-stomach buffet shows love, but not much imagination. If you have a friend or relative that you should visit, consider doing a little work instead of just going out to eat. Washing windows, filling birdfeeders, planting pansies, or framing photos can give someone many hours of joy.
Oh – and In the Garden with Billy – well worth reading! Good news, since I bought copies for 4 friends!