Stumped by a Stump

Shortly after I moved here, I had to have a Siberian elm tree cut down because it was interfering with the electric lines. Unfortunately, Siberian elms are tenacious creatures, and because the stump had never been ground out, the tree stump kept shooting up branches. I sure got tired of pruning that tree! Even worse, for every branch I cut, another half dozen would grow. Last fall, the workers who occasionally stop by to continue with a task they’d abandoned months previously, came back to try to dig out the stump. They told me they’d cut off all the roots that snaked off the main trunk, which should have made it easy to pry up the stump. Not so. They eventually abandoned the project — again — until they could arrange for a stump grinder, as well as schedule others with stumps needing removal to make the price of the equipment more affordable for all of us.

We thought that since that stump had been so mangled, it would die on its own, but that didn’t happen. In fact, this year, the thing grew even more voraciously than it did the previous year. I wasn’t too worried because the stump grinder was finally scheduled to be rented, though as always when it comes to my property, things weren’t that easy. Apparently, the grinder is missing a part, so . . . no grinder. When the part comes in, the grinding will begin. Meantime, I had that horrible mess with the unwieldy growth on the stump. I was thinking unhappy thoughts about the workers this morning as I pruned those dozens and dozens of branches. A new neighbor saw my struggles, and he commented that it shouldn’t be that difficult to dig up the stump.

He doesn’t have a high opinion of the guys who worked on my yard anyway, thinking they are doing me a disservice by walking away in the middle of my various projects and leaving me with half-finished messes, so he figured those guys hadn’t worked very hard on digging out the stump.

He came and worked on the stump for several hours, almost breaking his pickaxe and making his light-weight chainsaw smoke. (Tool envy! I sure would like a battery-powered mini-chainsaw.) He got the smaller stump dug up, but the big one “stumped” him, though he did manage to sever even more of the root arms that were holding the stump in place.

So now, I’m back waiting for the stump grinder.

It would be nice if the stump could be pulverized and the soil readied in time for a late season planting, since that part of the yard seems to be well nourished. Hollyhock seeds I threw in there a couple of years ago on the advice of the neighbor who had grown them and gifted them to me, decided to finally sprout this year, and the plants look like tall bushes with leaves as big as dinner plates. I’ve never seen hollyhock plants that big! And they are still babies.

I don’t suppose it really matters when the stump grinding is done since I am already over my head with work on my various gardens. The neighbor thinks that what he did today should keep any sprouts from growing, and that’s what I was really concerned about. I can deal with unfinished projects (most of the time anyway), but I do resent having to do chores that I wouldn’t have to do if the job had been finished in a timely manner.

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Gardening Chores

I went out this morning to do a couple of quick gardening chores. Two hours later, dirty, sweaty, and exhausted, I finally gave up. Each chore had led to another, until it seemed (and rightly so) that I’d never be finished. I suppose that’s both the frustration and fun of gardening — that there is always something that needs to be done, and that there is also always an excuse to go outside and play in the dirt.

I did accomplish some of what I wanted to do. I planted the bulb collection I got from the Arbor Day Foundation.

I realize this summer cutting garden will never look like the photo they sent — for one thing, the plants all flower at different times, and for another, I planted them in a straight line at the back of the flower garden I’m creating outside the one window I regularly look out of.

And then there is the problem with the gardener. (Meaning me.) A rank amateur, that’s for sure! Though admittedly, I am learning, and I am managing to keep some things alive besides waist-high weeds. As you can see, my marigolds and the cherry tomato plant are doing well despite the grass that insists on growing back.

After I planted the bulbs (being careful to follow the directions, which I don’t always do, but I wanted to make sure the bulbs at had at least a slim chance of coming up), I pulled weeds. Then I trimmed a tree/bush. It’s a locust that was cut down a couple of years ago, but it continues to grow. I’ve been undecided about keeping it since I’m not sure I want the responsibility of trimming it as I grow older, so I thought I’d have the tree guy grind out the stump when he comes to grind up all the other on the property, but I kind of like it. It looks like a fern with its tall, wavy branches.

After trimming the tree, I pulled more weeds. There are still more weeds to pull, and the weed patch I laughingly call my lawn needs to be mowed again. I also need to transplant some bulbs that will be buried under gravel if the landscaper ever comes back to do some more work, and then . . . yep, there’s always something!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Planting

I don’t have a dedicated vegetable garden spot yet, so after I bought a few cherry tomato plants yesterday, I planted them around the yard near other plants that need to be watered. I put three of the seedling in the back by the alley, three on the side yard, and a couple in other parts of the back yard. I don’t know how this style of gardening will work, but it makes sense to me. Maybe someday I’ll have a real garden, but for now, I’m just planting things wherever it feels comfortable. This way, if the plants like a certain part of the yard and do well, but don’t like another part of the yard, I’ve hedged my bets some. And truly, it doesn’t matter. If even one of the plants does well, I’ll have more fruit than I could possibly eat.

I did have to laugh, though, The plants cost more than a few months’ worth of tomatoes would cost me, but like everything else, it’s more the doing than the done.

Since the planting went well yesterday, I walked to the store again today and bought a few marigolds, enough to plant near each of the tomato plants. That’s one thing I remember from a long-ago failed gardening attempt — that tomatoes and marigolds like one another.

While I was out roaming my yard after today’s planting, I discovered clumps of gorgeous yellowish-orange flowers huddled around a downspout.

I’m not sure where these Siberian wallflowers came from, though perhaps one of the wildflower seeds I’d strewn around the yard a couple of falls ago ended up there and decided to take root. Or I suppose a bird could have dropped the seed. I do know I would like to plant more of these flowers. I wonder if it’s too late? Seeds around here can’t be planted before May 5th, so I wouldn’t be that far behind, but considering the state of mail delivery around here, it could be weeks before I got the seeds.

Well, there’s always next year.

Meantime, the larkspur are starting to sprout. I only had a few plants last year, but apparently, they planted themselves, and because of the winter moisture, I have several patches of the flowers. It will be fun to see them bloom, too.

It does seem as if I don’t really need to do anything to make my yard grow, just make sure it gets plenty of water, then sit back and see what — besides weeds — will come up. But then, I’d miss out on the fun of planting things.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Building a Garden

I just added another category for filing my blog posts — gardening. It appears as if I am writing quite a bit about my yard, what I’m doing to it, and what I’m planting. And today’s post is one of those.

A while back, I had ordered a few plants in pots (much nicer than bare root twigs!) and they arrived yesterday. So today, I went into my beautiful garage, grabbed a shovel, and started to dig. There was a lot of digging! I had to remove dead tree roots, Bermuda grass, weeds, and rocks. Then I had to sit down on my bench to plan what to put where. I had already decided, but apparently I didn’t realize how big some of these things would get, and hadn’t taken size into consideration.

I also had to translate some of the instructions into neophyte language. For example, they said not to plant the seedlings where they would get the afternoon sun, but at least two of the items need full sun. So I had to plop the plants wherever it seemed they would do best in the long term.

One thing that had surprised me because no other plant supplier had mentioned it: these instructions said that after I removed the plant from the container and before putting it in the ground, I had to cut the root ball in several places and fluff it up so that the roots would spread easier. So I did that, or at least what I presumed they meant by those instructions. We’ll see.

I’d planned to go walking afterward, but I sat back down on my bench to rest (gardening is hard work!) and exhaustion kept me there until it got too hot to walk. But sitting was nice. I got to survey my domain and imagine building a beautiful garden one plant at a time.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator