If you have patiently read through Part1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this story epic saga, you will know that Twisted Ankle and Busted Back are trying to create a perennial bed in their backyard. So far, apart from bodily injury, they have achieved precious little.
Oh, all right, the lawn has finally been cut and black dirt has been filled in to raise the bed. Well, most of the black dirt. In the calm early morning light of Sunday, they could see that a few more wheel barrow loads were needed.
So they hobbled back and forth and filled the beds with more dirt, and now they could start the planting.
But first, they had to decide how the plants would go into the bed. They whipped out the printout of their spreadsheet and looked at the heights and widths of the plants. Since they were starting from the back of the bed, the bigger plants would go in first, they decided. They started organizing the pots, and argued a little over the layout. Soon, they had picked out all the plants that were going to be planted.
But what about the 64 plants that had been bought in the Farmer’s Market? A lot of these would not be planted immediately. But they had grown much bigger in the last few weeks, curling their roots around every inch of the tiny pots they came in. Outgrowing their pots meant they were now perennially thirsty and seemed parched despite the regular watering.
These plants had started to droop and adopt the pose of Rodin’s “Thinking Plant”. They were clearly thinking profound, philosophical thoughts. “Is life worth living?”, they were asking themselves. “If I am anyway going to be reborn, should I get a headstart on that right away?” and the more important philosophical question “Why does the lawn get so much water and I get so little?”
The climbers among the plants had put out long tendrils, searching for a foothold in the ground. Perhaps they were trying to latch onto the ground and swing, Spiderman-like, out from their tiny pots.
Twisted Ankle and Busted Back spent a few hours moving the plants into bigger pots. Within an hour, as their roots explored their bigger homes, the plants forgot all their philosophy and sat up, looking very pleased with themselves. Within a day, they had started to wonder whether they would get an even bigger pot if they grew fast enough.
What does it all tell you? That this tendency to land grab is not unique to humans.
After repotting these plants, Twisted Ankle and Busted Back carried on planting in the perennial bed. A few hours later, the perennial bed was complete.
Twisted Ankle and Busted Back surveyed the flower bed they had just finished planting. Then they counted the plants. Thirty eight plants had been planted since morning. A lot of them were in bloom, and the flower bed was looking very attractive with pink and purple blossoms.
Then they turned around and their eyes widened as the full horror of their situation struck them in the face.
They had barely dug up about a third, or maybe a quarter of the first phase of the bed. If you consider their complete design, they had finished just 10%. The rest of it was still lawn that neeeded to be cut up and filled. There were still a hundred plants to be planted.
There was a little hill of black dirt, 3 feet tall by 8 feet wide, sitting on the driveway, and so far, their shovels had only created a dent on one side that looked like a mini landslide. They had to move the entire hill if they were to open the third garage stall at all. That was going to take weeks, if not months.
But there was more. It was already August, and next month, they would have to start planting the fall bulbs. There were about five hundred bulbs in the garage.
Is that so surprising? It shouldn’t be. Last year, Twisted Ankle and Busted Back had succumbed to bulb-buying frenzy, buying fall bulbs in much the same way they bought plants this year. Hundreds of bulbs had been bought in a burst of misguided enthusiasm, and only about a hundred or so of them had been planted. Of those, the tulips had bloomed beautifully in the spring, while not a single one of the crocuses had bloomed. Was it the voles? Who knows? But there were still tulips, daffodils, allium, muscari, bearded irises and some other bulbs in the garage that had to be planted this year.
Then, in spring, the canna and peony that were also hiding in the garage needed to be planted.
Oh, and then there were the seedlings.
Some months back, Twisted Ankle had bought 3 packets of seeds of lavender and delphiniums. Three tiny packets. The packets contained a 100 seeds each, and she was hoping that atleast ten of them would germinate. She had even less hope about the delphiniums, since these are notoriously hard to grow.
The lavender had other ideas, all 200 of them seem to have germinated and grown into seedlings.? Even the picky delphiniums had germinated in the tens. At the rate at which they were growing, they would need to be transplanted soon into tiny pots. And next spring, they would all have to be planted too..
Twisted Ankle and Busted Back suddenly realized that the perennial bed had booked all their summer AND fall AND spring weekends. They could see themselves spending every weekend toiling in the garden, until the first snow fell and wiped the landscape into a blur of white. And then coming back into the garden again as soon as the last traces of snow had melted in spring.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, Busted Back had developed a serious case of PlantBuyingophilia. Now he could not go to any big box store or the Farmers Market without heading first for the plants. He saw plants everywhere. He wanted to buy all the plants he saw, and I mean all, every one of them. The plants have bewitched Busted Back, and there is no known wizard in the world who can break the spell. Twisted Ankle would protest, but only until she came face to face with the plants. Then, she too, would find herself falling under the spell of the plants.
If you notice a couple in your local nursery or garden center buying plants in the dozens, observe them carefully. Does one of them clutch his back every now and then? Does the other walk with a barely noticeable limp, and grab every perennial plant she sees on the shelf? Do they both walk out, pushing carts loaded with perennials and a glazed, distant look in their eyes?
If you see these things, you are looking at Twisted Ankle and Busted Back going on yet another buying spree to fill their perennial bed.