Shrub Wars, Ugly Betty and the Arch Nemesis

It seems when I'm out gardening, the number of people who want to talk to me is inversely proportional to how bad I look.

I swear, I could be out there in a ballgown and a tiara, sipping mint juleps and no one would say so much as a "good morning."

But if I'm in my yard for two seconds in my bag-lady mismatched clothes, my bangs in a barrette, glasses smeared with pollen, dirt on my elbows and my nose running, everyone in the neighborhood suddenly wants to stop by and discuss life, the universe and everything.

Thing is, when I get gardening and sporting the Ugly Betty look, I don't really WANT to talk to anyone. I get in the zone. And I need to be in the zone because my yard is fairly uneven and a missed step can mean rolling down the incline of the yard.

I imagine whole crowds would show up for a chat as that was happening.

I also tend to be unable to garden without injury. Why, one summer not so long ago, I set out to dig up and replace a couple of nuisance shrubs with something more ornamental, and I got so into working out the roots that I didn't notice the branch coming up and just missing my eye.

Can you imagine me driving myself to the hospital with no depth perception and explaining to the emergency room people the reason for my empty eyesocket was Puncture By Shrub?

"When Shrubs Attack--- Coming up next on The Discovery Channel!"

The irony being that "removing a shrub" is also one of the big keyphrases that seems to lead people to my home and garden blog.

The fact that people come there thinking they can learn shrub removal from a person who almost had to change her name to "Popeye," just goes to show that Search Engine Optimization isn't a perfect science.

And then, of course, there are the tasks that I try to take on myself that would be better left to the droves-- but the droves are strangely AWOL when they'd be truly helpful. Like the massive wrought-iron trellis I assembled last year.

It was in pieces to start with...

Lots of pieces...

And I spent the better part of an afternoon assembling all of the screws and nuts and putting Part A to Phlange B, etc.

All of this, I assembled flat out in my backyard with little problem, and I looked at my work with a smile of satisfaction...

Until I realized the arch needed to be standing upright.

The arch-- and I know this because the box said so-- weighed 150 pounds. It was also about seven foot tall.

The problem here is that your average five-foot eight female cannot LIFT an 150-pound, seven-foot-tall garden arch to a standing position. I mean, I know the ancient Egyptians built whole pyramids bringing giant blocks up slopes without a single piece of equipment made by John Deere....

And yes, the Celts dragged the stones of Stonehenge all the way from Wales in order to place them in the middle of a field in Salisbury because they hadn't invented the wristwatch yet.

But these ancient people were clearly a lot smarter than I am, and didn't get all cocky about Panel A and Phlange B.

Also, as my friend Greg pointed out, they had slave labor. Whereas I just had a few neighborhood squirrells laughing their fluffy tails off.

Well, a week later I was able to get a friend to help me right the darned garden arch. And let me tell you, TWO average females lifting that sucker was a huge improvement when it comes to Garden Arch Physics. What was my Arch Nemesis now is my Arc de Triumph.

So today, as I go out to garden, it will be interesting to see just what sort of injury awaits. Scratches or punctures, trapped under metal architectural structures... it's all up for grabs.

But if you were thinking of popping by, I'd recommend stopping to say "hello" at about 11am today. I should be rolling down the front hill about then. And don't worry, admission is free.

Or you could also stop by and see my fellow bloggers at Humor-blogs. Unless, they're trapped under an 150-pound, seven-foot-tall garden arch, too.


Alice said...

First off - that arch is just beautiful! Do you plan to grow anything up and around it? We've had a lot of luck with clematis lately in case you needed unwanted suggestions.

And the whole depth perception thing - there has been more than one instance where I almost lost an eye driving into a tree branch that way.

Unknown said...

Heya, Alice! I've got two different climbing roses that I'm trying to train to go up it. So we'll see how that goes-- this year will tell for sure how it'll look.

I'm glad I'm not the only one out risking eyeballs by gardening.

In the spirit of Jean Shepherd-- "You'll poke your eye out, kid!" :)

Da Old Man said...

Ugly Betty?

No way. I've seen your picture and can't imagine any way you could look bad.

: )

Good luck with your gardening. By the way, great ideas come out of sad misfortune, at times, according to Donnie Whatshisface on CNBC at night. Perhaps, someone will come up with braille tools for the vision impaired gardener?

Until then, duck and cover.

Unknown said...

Da Old Man- While I do appreciate your kind confidence, folks'll just have to take my word for the horrors. :)

Let's hope it won't come to vision impaired gardening...

Perhaps I should develop the "Shrub-Be-Gone" Garden Goggles!

Alice said...

I hope you have better luck with the roses than I did. Apparently my laziness didn't mesh with the high maintenance needs of the ones I had. Black spot is a constant problem here. I've still got a bunch of roses by the shed that are much hardier (and thornier) that just smell AMAZING. Just want to eat them up. (Sounds weird I know.)

Unknown said...

Alice- It depends on the rose plant, really. I have one that always gets black spot, but others that are fairly happy. I also use a protective spray on them, which helps.

Yup, some of those antique roses smell amazingly! And because rose pollen is larger than some other pollens, roses don't cause allergies! Yay!

Greg said...

Hey there, JT! Thanks for the shout-out! Whew...for a minute there, when you mentioned your Arch Nemesis, I thought PBD had returned...that's a hell of an arch, though, that's for sure!

Oh, I so get what you mean! Back when I had a secret garden, I thought nothing of going right out to work in the garden after first coffee. Really, if I didn't do something to make myself EXTRA foul the night before, I see no wisdom in showering/shaving/etc., just to go out and get all grubby in the garden.

Now the garden's right there on the street and I'm having trouble adapting. Turns out if you avoid a mirror, you can go all day with bedhead and never be troubled by it...until you think of all the neighbors you chatted with.

Jenn Thorson said...

Gregoire- no problem-- you were an integral person in the "Arch Story" last year.

Regarding gardening grubby-- I think guys just don't deteriorate with gardening as much as some of us gals do. I tend to look okay only under the right conditions-- hair cooperation, no glasses, it being a Thursday on a month with an R in it... And gardening is just not a part of that equation. :)

Anonymous said...

How in the world would you put that arch together upright? Somebody didn't think of that when they made the instructions. I too would have had a large heavy hunk of pretty metal in my yard and wondering "now what?!". Glad you found a friend to hoist it up.


Unknown said...

Chyna- I don't think they meant it to be assembled upright-- but they just didn't emphasize that bringing it to a standing position was going to be more than a one person job.

You would have laughed to see me TRY to lift the thing myself, though.

"Maybe I can balance part of it on my head...."

Greg said...

See, now, I think you're projecting here, about the grubby gardening thing: you women think guys look good all covered in dirt and mud and such...the whole dirty savages thing, perhaps.

You know, between this and the whole "men age more gracefully" business, one could really get the idea that you all had some kind of a complex. ; )

So, let me just say, anyone who looks like Bree Hodges after installing a trellace or digging a new garden bed is doing something dreadfully wrong!

Unknown said...

Greg- well, regarding the projecting-- perhaps. Could also be seeing "What Not To Wear" on BBCAmerica where those harpies seem to think we all should garden in high heels and prom gowns. :)