The annual Garden Tour is coming up (June 21), and each year this thing costs me a fortune.
Don't get me wrong. Going on the tour is cheap -- it's only five bucks -- and you get to see some beautiful gardens lovingly crafted by their owners.
No, the cost is in all the ideas my wife gets as we go through the tour together.
Now understand, when it comes to yard work, the operative word for me is "work." I know some people who talk about how much they relax working on their yards and gardens. To me, it's just work. I do other things to relax and none of them involve building new flower beds, digging holes for ponds, or even just mowing the yard.
Given a choice, any flowers at my place would be silk or plastic and I'd use astroturf for lawn. Or green concrete (it's cheaper, I know, I've checked).
But no, my wife loves growing things. And she wants it to look nice. She weeds and waters. It's my job to build it.
And when she sees something she likes on the garden tour, somehow that idea gets put on my "to do" list. Or there will be a particularly pretty plant that she wants installed somewhere in the yard. Never mind that I may have to order it from somewhere in central Europe or southeast Asia, that it takes special attention to keep it alive during our winters, and it takes a hole just under 40 feet deep to be dug to get the darn thing properly planted.
Where I live when I start digging I hit gravel after about eight inches. Beyond that, I'm not gardening, I'm mining.
And every one of these special plants she likes has some special need to keep it healthy. When we go on the tour, the people who've put these gardens in are extremely helpful in giving advice about their plants, ponds, whatever. This plant requires a lot of water, this plant should be watered every third day, this plant once a week. Explain that to my sprinkler (which operates on the principle of drown everything and let God sort it out later). In my case all that advice goes in one ear and out the other. It just never seems to stick around in the empty space between.
Until I married my wonderful wife (and there isn't anything I wouldn't do for her), I didn't know a daisy from a dandelion. In fact, the latter was all I was really good at growing. I have what's known in the trade as a "brown thumb."
When it comes to my inside plants, for example, I had one person whose house looked like a tropical jungle tell me many years ago that the secret was talking to your plants. So I talked to them. And they all promptly committed suicide.
Some time later that person mentioned that besides good conversation, they also needed sunlight and water. Oh well, you live and learn.
After I married Rita I started to learn some of those simple basics. I had to. Plants aren't cheap. If those things didn't grow, then I might as well have just been digging holes and throwing money in them.
I still talk to my plants, especially when I'm digging/mining a hole to plant a new tree or weeding a flowerbed, but I usually try and do it outside of my wife's hearing. She doesn't like some of the language I use.
And there are things I will never understand. I have several spots in my lawn where it just seems impossible to grow grass. I water. I mulch. I fertilize. I put really expensive special lawn patch seeds on it. Nothing. Yet not three feet away I can't keep the grass from growing through the cracks in my concrete sidewalk. I swear, whatever type of grass I have in my yard prefers concrete over soil.
There's some kind of weed that I can't seem to get rid of that grows along the ground in vines and has a pretty little flower that blooms on it. My wife is always trying to get rid of it. But when I tell her, "heck, it blooms. let it go," I get a look that if she'd use it on the weed instead of me it would instantly wither into dust.
I have to admit that under Rita's "guidance" my place looks a lot better than it used to. And every year, we add something new and nice to it.
Right after the Garden Tour.
Next year, I'm going to take her to Vegas that week. It'll be cheaper.