I decided that the only way to proceed was with a clean slate. And so my intro into gardening consisted of a task that even the worst gardener can be successful at.
I began with the front yard, which was overrun with English ivy and threatening the happiness and well-being of a beautiful crape myrtle, my one tree in the front. Inexperienced as I was, I had heard stories of this invasive beastie vine, and they included the advice that the only real way to eradicate it was by hand. One trip to Home Depot later, I was armed with this formidable weapon and so set myself to my task:
And after a week or so of after-work labor in the autumn sun, I had reached my goal: complete extermination of the ivy and sweet sweet freedom for the crape myrtle. I swear I could hear Myrtle taking deep breaths and whispering "thank you" when I was done. Sure, my little square of front yard was now a grey dusty patch of moonscape (seen below the next spring, when the crocuses I buried in November began to come to life). But it was MY grey dusty patch of moonscape.
But the real challenge lay ahead, in the backyard:
|This was before it got ugly.|
This was no little 15-ft square. This lovely lawn stretched about 50 feet back from the townhouse. The picture above was taken on move-in day in July. By November, when my killing spree began, the weeds and vines created a 2-ft high jungle all the way across the yard. My task: kill it all, bag it up, and let the county cart it away. Extra challenge: with neighbors on both sides, I had no direct access to the back except through my house. Thus, all yard trash would either have to be dragging through my basement, upstairs and through the kitchen, and out the front door, OR (as I ended up doing) physically heaving each full bag over my (very understanding) neighbor's chain link fence, clambering over the fence myself, and then dragging each bag up the hill over my neighbor's uneven, homemade steps, through his front yard, and to the street.
And so once again, armed with my weapon of choice...
...I waged war upon my enemies. Day after day, until it was too dark to see, all week long and through a long weekend, a woman possessed. Long were my labors, stiff were my knees, filthy were my fingernails. But at long last, the goal was reached, and there was this:
Well, I didn't say it was pretty. What a lot of ugly fences, huh? But who would have guessed the yard was so big? And if this isn't a clean slate, I really don't know what is. But now, what to do with that blank canvas? If only I could tell you that the killing was over. Sigh.