One day last week, I couldn’t bear being inside my house or inside my own skin. Normally, solitude is joy, but there are certain days — and I’ve had a lot of them, this gloomy spring and summer.
I wish I could tell you I get through such times by meditating or some other spiritual practice worthy of a true hermit. Ha. Truth is, at the itchiest of those moments the only cure is to escape from the hermitage. And usually to shop.
Oh, not for designer shoes or fancy clothes, unless I can get them from a thrift store. Anything I have reason to buy will do — past-date groceries at the liquidation mart, a wastebasket at Walmart, any find from a garage sale. The mere act of leaving the house and going somewhere where there are abundant, colorful, inexpensive, fun, creative choices always picks me up.
So does outdoor work, but the soggy spring and summer we’ve had has left me unmotivated.
This summer’s one-and-only real project was to be a rock wall/rock garden covering the long, low bank in front of the house. This bank:
Clear back in the depths of last winter I told The Wandering Monk to save a spot in his schedule for wall/rock garden building, “Early. In May, as soon as weather permits.” However, May didn’t permit. June didn’t permit. Early July didn’t permit. Or rather, I lost my oomph somewhere in the spring and haven’t been able to get it back thanks to rain, but mostly to inertia.
Then that itchy-mood day came last week. I ended up serendipitously combining two curatives — I shopped and thus got myself project-motivated. That day, lo and behold, the place that passes for our local garden center was having a CLEARANCE CLEARANCE CLEARANCE sale on all plants.
You know I’m a black-thumb person when it comes to growing plants. Shamefully terrible at it. But since the house is down to finishing details, I’m slowly embarking on the project of getting rid of every last damn bit of lawn on the house side of the street. I’ll still keep grass on the lot across the road because that’s going to be my little private park (probably about the time I get too old to totter over to enjoy it), but eventually every bit of land around the house will be covered with:
- Perennial plants
- River rock
- Cedar bark
- Bulb plants
- Stepping stones
- Garden sculptures
- Gravel Paths
- Raised-bed veggie gardens (yes, eventually)
- Container herb gardens
- Rock gardens
- Ponds (I salvaged two forms from the backyard of the flatlands house)
- Brick mini-patios
I’m conducting a War on Lawns and I swear it will be more successful than any “War on _____” that the fedgov ever concocted.
So a clearance sale on plants? Herbs for $0.50? Gallon containers of tomato plants for $1.50? Sedges and Irish moss $1.50 per pot? Weird purple perennials I’ve never laid eyes on before for practically nothing? Irresistible.
The best thing I found were these seedum tiles, half off.
I love succulents, because even I can’t kill them. Besides, give them a chance and they’ll spread like weeds. These tiles have fiber backings and are designed to be laid out as groundcover on slopes and such. Just rough up some dirt, lay the mats of seedum on top, water, and let nature do all the work. Better nature than me, I usually say.
That’s not how I’m going to use them, though.
Rock gardens need grow-y things in their crevasses. If you don’t quickly plant the grow-y items you want, ones you don’t want are ready to volunteer. My brain had been stuck on choices that were expensive and not readily available (kinnickkinnick) or need time and effort to start (ivy, which is abundant here but can’t just be dug up or cut up and slammed between rocks).
Those four flats of seedum solved the entire problem for the grand sum of $26 and no muss or fuss and got me motivated about that rock garden again. I’m going to cut the tiles in small pieces and tuck them (along with a little topsoil) into the spaces in the wall. If they aren’t quite enough to complete the job, patches of Irish moss are already planted in the “moss nursery” on the damp, mostly shaded side of the house. Next spring they can be divided and placed in the wall, too.
And the long-delayed wall will be built in a few weeks, because with my lifted mood, I finally (a mere three months behind schedule) went to the quarry to spec rock, then dropped in on The Monk to give him a heads up and request specific time in his schedule.
The summer’s one big project will (knock wood) be underway — and completed — in early August. And the gloom of spring and this year’s non-summer will be Officially Lifted. At the moment, even the weather seems poised to co-operate.