I had a lovely morning yesterday - I spent a few hours in the garden, in a light drizzle, cleaning up the forest-like beds at the front of the house. There are a number of big gorgeous rhododendrons and Japanese maples, some azaleas, some evergreens, and a few odds and sods like holly bushes and a sumac tree. All enveloped by lush ferns, vinca vines and assorted nameless shrubby things, in raised stone beds with paths wandering through. It's quite a lovely part of our property, but with everything else going on last year it got completely neglected.
It's looking much better now, after three days of work. The stone paths have been reclaimed from a couple of winters of falling evergreen needles and one long summer of weed proliferation. Last year's dead lily-like objects have been cleaned out. The dead fern fronds have been cut back. And all of a sudden there is more to see. Instead of an indistinct mass of green stuff, now there are individual shrubs looking magnificent even in their early spring nakedness. With the dead undergrowth cleared away we can see the green shoots of the many bulbs that have been planted in the beds. And the tidied paths look so inviting as they wind away through the beds. Everything seems to have more room to be.
It all involved a lot of dirt and mess. Dried, messy stuff I cleaned out and carted away. Dirty, soggy stuff I raked and swept off the paths. Rich, dark compost I carted in and spread. I really like getting dirty when I work. In fact, the dirtier the better. Maybe it's just a reaction against the years of my life when I had to dress up and stay clean. Or maybe being dirty is a visible marker of productivity - or at least effort. Whatever it is, I like it when Kim comes outside and exclaims over how dirty I am and wonders how I got dirt in my ear and on my chin and how I am ever going to get those pants clean.
On a popular CBC radio phone-in show recently, a gardening expert gently chided a caller for saying "dirt" when he meant "soil." I like "dirt," myself.