this past saturday i woke at 6:30, groggy and beat down from a long week of maintenance and planting. i made a cup of super extra dark strong roasted komodo dragon blend, blasted myself with a hotter than hell shower to wipe the sleep out of my soul, and found myself gunning toward a “half-day” of planting. i arrived at the job at about 8, just in time to start spacing out the 2 grand worth of plants i had purchased the previous day. i get frenetic at these moments. once i am awake and the soreness of 3 dislocated shoulders has been thwarted by motrin and caffeine, i am ready for anything the day deems necessary to throw at me.
today was not too tough, or so i assumed. i spaced out the plants for a job in laguna niguel that i had designed a few weeks earlier. armando and his crew from perez landscaping where there before me, arranging flagstones and finishing the sprinkler adjustments.
we cranked away for several hours when my phone rang – it was my next door neighbor, harry.
for several months now we have been tentatively planning to replant a small raised planter that juts out to the right of his garage. about six months ago i came home one saturday afternoon and harry was eagerly chopping away at a loquat tree in the back of the very same planter. in all the time i have lived across from harry i have admired and partaken of the fruit from the loquat treee. needless to say i was dismayed that he was chopping the thing down.
“what the f*&k are you doing”, i said. he informed me that there was a retaining wall that needed to be rebuilt just to the right of the loquat tree and in order to rebuild the wall, the tree needed to go. i didn’t quite buy the story, but decided to help harry with the tree regardless. the tree could have been saved.
he and i hacked away, lopped up, cut up and stomped down the debris. i was sad to see the tree go, but was happy to help a neighbor with a chore he was going to pursue whether or not i was there. beer included.
… a month or two goes by … i ignore the construction and don’t offer to help a bit … i stay in bed on the weekends and drink mimosas and listen as harry struggles with the rebuilding of the retaining wall. harry eventually tears out the rest of the crappy planting material in the small planter – which consists of overgrown lantana and grassy weeds. he retains a nice looking bird of paradise and that’s it.
several more weeks go by… harry and i talk about replanting… another week goes by…
this past saturday rolls around and harry finally calls me to help him with the planter. i tell him to meet me at plant depot at 2:30 in the afternoon. i finish up with the job in laguna niguel and head over to las golondrias for a carne asada burrito – with sour cream, guacamole, and rice. i eat, and drive over to the nursery and chat away with erick lux – truly one of my favorite plant people and someone who i have lots to learn from – check out botaniverse.
harry shows up and we pick out a beautiful 15 gallon mineola tangelo, two 5 gallon birds of paradise, and two flats of strawberries – “pretty in pink” and “sequoia”. the nursery is buzzing with customers and we do all we can to check out and head back home to finish the planting before dark. harry and i load the plants into my stake-bed, along with 2 bags of harvest supreme planting mix and bust out for home.
i pull up to harry’s house at about 3:30 and begin unloading the plants. he pulls up about 5 minutes later and gets out of his car holding a 12 pack of negra modelo. “planting fuel”, he says. oh great, i think, this will be fun. he begins pulling the grassy weed from the planter and i begin turning the soil in his wake. in no time at all do we weed and cultivate the planter – it’s only about 3 feet wide by 15 feet long. the soil is sandy and very easy to break apart with a spade shovel. it’s got a few extraneous roots in it, but nothing to speak of. harry chides me for not helping him with the tear-out. oops, i was sleeping and eating bacon, and lounging with my girlfriend…
i add in the two bags of harvest supreme planting mix, working them in with my furious OCD tendencies, and then get totally distracted because of the beer and begin pruning his pygmy date palms on the other side of the driveway. his phoenix robelini have spikes sticking out everywhere. i show him how to prune off the fronds all the way to the trunk – so that no spikes can jab a future pruner, or unsuspecting passerby, or me because i will probably be pruning them 6 months from now.
“maybe we should get back to the planting”, harry casually insists. “we only have an hour till dark.” i reassure harry and get back to the planting. “you mean maybe i should get back to the planting”, i tell harry. beer is getting the best of my saturday afternoon. in no time flat i dig the holes and plant the tangelo, the two birds and the flats of strawberries. i finish planting the last of the strawberries as the sun is going down. by the time i am done a very cold chill has descended and it’s all i can do to finish watering everything in and bail out for the evening. he offers to buy my girlfriend and me dinner for the evening. we decline, as i am tired as hell and ready for a shower. but we will gladly take a rain check for sure.
harry is stoked that the planting is done and confides in me that his wife, deanna, is going to be so happy when she gets home. of course it’ll be past dark and she won’t see it until the morning, but we know we’ve done a great job – and harry is especially happy because he is banking on the fact that this is going to be the last home improvement he is going to do for the next 10 years. “i guess it’s time to buy a new house now that this one is all fixed up”, he tells me.
good luck with all that, pal, i tell him. drink a beer and just stay put. enjoy your new tangelo tree and strawberry patch. don’t worry. why move. you’ve got an ocean view. life is good.
life is always good. you’ve just got to see it. if you don’t, you are not looking with the right intent.
- enjoy the garden-