April 24, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Yesterday afternoon while the Missus was AWOL taking some quality personal time, I loaded the Llama-ettes into the jeep and headed over to Meadow Farms, my usual local nursery, to pick up a pair of new wisteria for the fence in the back yard.

The only problem I have with this place is that its parking lot is extremely narrow. On beautiful weekend afternoons like we had yesterday, it quickly gets jammed with SUVs, people pushing carts full of stuff out to their cars and large trucks coming in and out from home delivery runs. The only thing for it was to clamp an iron grip on the four year old's collar, hold the six year old's hand and advise the eight year old to keep her eyes open and stay close.

Fortunately, we made it in without misshap and found the wisteria, Self solomnly passing on to the gels the received wisdom that one should only buy one of these plants if it has flower buds on it, so as not to get stuck with a non-blooming dud. Let me apologize to any of our readers who might have been present when we checked out: Yes, my children have very loud voices. Yes, they get even louder when they get excited. Yes, it doesn't take very much to excite them. But short of duct tape, I'm not really sure there's anything I can do about it.

We also picked up the appropriate transplanting supplies, plus a couple small herbs for the pots on the porch (basil, thyme and sage, in case you're wondering). Coming back out to the car, I was a slight bit apprehensive about just how I was going to fit everyone and everything back into it, but thinking that if I had to leave something, it would probably be the four year old, who had just narrowly been averted from smashing a garden gnome I had absolutely no wish to buy. (She got a swat for that, or rather for repeatedly ignoring my orders to leave the gnome alone and playing the fool on the edge of the parking lot, administered as discretely as possible with one eye cast over my shoulder to make sure nobody was whipping out a cell phone to call CPS.)

At any event, I did manage to load them all up. The four year old sat with bags of compost and potting soil stacked under her legs. The other two, with a large bag of mulch on the seat between them, held the herbs in their laps. The two wisteria - both about four feet tall, just fit into the space between the back seat and the tailgate, their tops protruding into space.

All the Llama-ettes were passionate about wanting to help plant our new acquisitions, so when we got home, they all threw on grubby clothes and scurried into the garage to grab the supplies out of the car, together with whatever gardening implement looked good to them. I will give the eight and six year olds credit: they managed to hoist the bag of mulch between them and half carry, half drag it to the back gate. From there, with the send of the slope, the eight year old was able to drag it the rest of the way.

Everybody also wanted a turn at the shovel when I started digging the holes. Failing that (it's still too big for them), they took to scooping out grass, dirt and clay with their hands, showing off their increasing filthiness to each other.

The high point of the proceedings came when I opened the bag of compost manure and told the gels what it was made of. "Eeeeew! Cow poop? Plants like to eat cow poop? Gross! Can we touch it?"

Eventually, the younger two took to chasing butterflies and it was left to the eldest and me to finish the job. We currently have one wisteria in the middle of the fence on the northwest side of the yard and what I wanted to do here was to plant another on either side of it and about twenty feet away, in order to eventually make one long hedge all the way down the fence. She helped me tease out the root balls and then fill in the holes with compost and dirt, finally covering all in mulch. Like Ol' Dad, she had donned her Nats cap for the gardening and I could tell how proud she was of herself for getting down 'n dirty with it. We finished up by extracting the temporary trellis, untangling some of the vines and tying some of the creepers to the fence in order to encourage the plants to grab on. Once they get established, I think this will produce a very nice effect.

After that, the four year old "helped" me pot the herbs on the porch. She is of the yank-em-out-of-their-pots-slam-em-into-their-new-homes-and-drown-em school of thought, and my principal task was to run interference in order to save their collective lives. She is also of an age where she sees no problem in tracking back and forth from the library door to the downstairs loo in muddy flip-flops in order to fill up the watering can, although for some mysterious reason she feels exempt from having to clean up the mess. (By this time the Missus was home and we both explained to her with words and gesture that she did not, in fact, enjoy any such exempt status.)

And the six year old? Well, after chasing butterflies for a while, she suddenly grabbed the shovel, lifted it up, and said, "I pledge allegiance to the shovel of the United States of shovels. And to the shovel for which it stands, one shovel, under God, with liberty and shovels for all." She then began laughing like a loon at her own wit. This gel happens to be Steve-O's God-daughter. It somehow seems fitting.

All in all, a restful and productive afternoon.

Posted by Robert at April 24, 2006 12:28 PM | TrackBack

somehow it absolutely tickles me that someone is blogging as Princess Sparkle Pony - this is probably partly because I have a 4 yo girl... thus I share it with YOU, you dad-of-girls you


Posted by: dave s at April 27, 2006 08:25 AM