here are people in the world whose job it is to know everything there is to know about flowers. That person is called an herbalist or maybe a herbivore or a flowerologist or something. What’s remarkable is that there are normal people living among us that know all kinds of stuff about flowers and they are bankers or work at the car wash or maybe deliver mail.
None of those people are me. My knowledge of flowers and plants ended at age six after the tomato plant massacre of 1978. They still talk about it in the halls of Crestview Elementary with horror. I’ve been a homeowner for 19 years and my knowledge of the things growing in my front and back yard is that I have to mow every week.
The only landscaping I’ve done is to add rocks to my front yard which would cut down on the real estate available for things to grow. And yet, there’s still that one patch of poison ivy growing up the side of my house – no matter what I drop on it, it will outlive nuclear winter.
Last year, our retaining wall finally bit the dust and we put in a nice new retaining wall with those cool bricks that you might see on the HGTV channels. There’s probably a name for them like Sunset Brick Water Plus or something. But I just call them bricks. This left my front yard in shambles and I was forced to grow something – on purpose.
I went to the Lowes Depot and bought a giant green bag of something and spread a bunch of it on my yard. Then I waited. While I was there, I also saw these beautiful purple and gold flowers that I thought would look nice in front of our yard. They did. For two weeks until the sun murdered them in cold blood. Nothing green grew on the yard either. But it did attract a ton of birds. I bought another green bag and then a bag of fertilizer. This allowed me to grow the single highest patch of grass in the middle of a dirt yard. Last year, let’s just say, was a mess.
The grass eventually evened out and with the rain and nice weather this past week, we had our first mow. There is now grass about 90% of the place it should be and only 20% of the places it shouldn’t. I also put the pots back in front of the house that had the pretty flowers in them last year. I don’t remember what it said, but all plants are annual plants, right? They come up every year. Except these didn’t. What I managed to do last year was buy a pot of dirt and rent some flowers for a few weeks.
What’s shocking to me is that when I tell people about the woes of my yard, people actually see my mistakes and offer corrections. “Well, whatcha gotta do is get more nitrogen in that fertilizer” or “Go with some mums.” What the hell do those things mean? I don’t want to know the entire periodic table of elements just so I can see green out my front yard. I pick my flowers based solely on what color they are.
What I have managed to grow so far this year is dandelions – which I assume if I don’t mow over them turn into sunflowers. They should just call them baby sunflowers. I should let them grow all summer then charge millennials to take pictures in my yard in October.
“Growing” them, of course, implies that I have something to do with it. When it rains, they get water. When the sun comes out, the yard gets sun. I wish I knew what elemental mum to get to make my house pretty, but for now, the greener grass I can find is in my neighbor’s yard. Maybe my neighbor is a herbolovore.
(Get growing with The Landmark’s Chris Kamler on Twitter, where you can follow his antics as @TheFakeNed)