Doing nothing


I prefer doing nothing, or at least delaying doing something as long as possible, sometimes even knowing that next year’s labor will be increased considerably as a result of my sloth. Long ago, and repeatedly, I’ve learned that winter weeds must be pulled before going to seed, or the next crop (usually ten or eleven months later) will be a bigger problem. But, to say I’ve learned and that I pluck weeds before they go to seed, is quite different. Sometimes I do, but more often I curse the current bumper crop caused by the previous year’s failure.

Flowers of several hellebores are imminent, so deepest piles of leaves have been cleared from them. Later blooming types will remain covered for weeks.

Several weeks into winter, I’ve made little progress in cleaning up the garden prior to spring growth. As always, there’s much to be done, but mostly it doesn’t matter if I do the work today or a month from now. Then, if there’s a foot of snow, or it’s twelve degrees outside, I can delay even further without too much harm. There are a few tasks that must be done on time, and no matter the weather, these will get done. If piles of leaves must be moved and shredded to see flowers of hellebores (above), it’ll get done.

It’s not that I haven’t accomplished a thing. Deep piles of leaves that covered the front walk and back patios were cleaned up before guests arrived for Thanksgiving, and the leaning Gold Cone juniper that had been cockeyed since a late March nor’easter was finally chopped and roots dug out on a cool afternoon last week. So, that’s a start, but there are piles of leaves to shred covering a third of the garden that won’t go away quickly enough on their own, perennials that must be cut back before they begin to grow, and I don’t even want to think of repairs necessary to the lower third of the rear garden that has been flooded for much of the past six months.

A section of the wall that retains the lower end of the koi pond must be rebuilt. Access is not easy, but the wall is less stable than I’d like after repeated rainfall this year.

There’s a dead Chinese dogwood to remove, and hopefully nothing else dies in this ground that remains swampy. A Japanese maple on higher ground is almost certainly dead, and I can see that the overflow area of the koi pond has overflowed a few too many times in this rainy year. The stone wall that retains the back side must be carefully torn down, backfilled, and compacted before rebuilding the wall. If this is delayed too long I fear the wall will collapse and the pond will go dry, at least half dry, and that’s a much bigger deal for waiting too long.

I don’t know if there’s more or less to be done than in a typical year, but in any case these are not projects I’m looking forward to. Probably, each will require only a few hours, but I’m pretty certain I’m getting older and lazier by the day. It sure is nice that there’s no urgency in the middle of winter.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carole Cambria Gertel says:

    I completely understand your predicament. I have an acre of gardens in New Baltimore and have been putting things off, mostly because of the muck! The fact that I’m over 60 has something to do with it as well. I have already resigned myself to the fact of needing to hire or ask for help mulching (my gardens take 50 yards) and other more labor intensive work. Such is the life of the avid gardener!!

    1. Dave says:

      I stopped mulching years ago, not that this is for everyone. Too much work and it cuts into my planting budget. If I plant enough to shade every inch of ground, mulch is less necessary. The tradeoff is that there are a few more weeds early on, but fifty yards would cover only a fraction of this garden.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    I think that if I had winters like most other have, I would make a point of taking more time off in the winter, and growing things that are mostly dormant then. Only the infrastructure would be in need of attention. We do not have much of an off season here. If there was, I would take advantage of it.

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