I know lots about biting off more than I can chew (BOMTICC). My nearest and dearest will tell you I’ve raised the practice to an art-form. Coupled with a compulsive tendency that tolerates no unfinished enterprise, it’s a great recipe for frustration and, once in a while, disaster.
|Rosa 'New Dawn,'|
the "Mother's Day" rose,
getting an early start
Take, for example, all the current garden projects in various stages of (un)completion chez Fitz. A domestic hiccup occurring last week and overflowing into this one put the kibosh on making progress on any of them. (Not to worry, we came out the other side of the hiccup hale and hearty. I will say this, though: this getting-old crap is not for sissies.) As the season moves along, the temperatures eke up a little every day. We’ve been taking outdoor showers since April 8th. After a restless, sweaty night, today we broke down and turned on the air-conditioner. I’m beginning to wonder if I have, once again, BOMTICC.
It all looked so simple on paper back in February, and there was just so much time before the energy-sapping heat set in. But, as usual where I’m concerned, way leads on to way. They loop back eventually, but critical momentum gets lost. Quick as you can say “Bob’s your uncle,” it’s July and I refuse to go out in that voluntarily. Even OCD has its limits.
|A blue vignette:|
Iris 'Contraband Girl,'
Baptisia minor &
On Good Friday, Tim and I met with one of the hardest-working people on the planet. Over the past several seasons, Barb’s been building an ambitious garden on the vacant lot next door (it’s okay—she owns it). She’s brought in and wheelbarrowed around three or more truckloads of dirt. She’s dug about a mile of trenches to direct water to the drainage ditch she cleared and deepened across the back of the lot. With concrete she mixed, formed and poured herself, she engineered a sluice from the high ground to an underground drainpipe she installed herself. She’s built a low wall around what will be the centerpiece of the space, and hauled in the pieces of a ginormous fountain she plans to erect as its focal point. She’s also relocated full-grown crape myrtles and Burford hollies, built a decorative little coffer dam around a native tree with bricks left over from the construction of her house, and planted or moved about a hundred shrubs and perennials as screening and to rough out several garden rooms. Lacking an irrigation system, she waters by hand. I got worn to a frazzle just listening.
|A close-up of California firecracker,|
one of the Evipo hybrids
With the hardscape in place, it will be easier to see which of the too-many plants can stay, and which should head to the Great Compost-Heap in the Sky. Definition shapes a space: without it, all you’ve got is a mess of plants.
|The pea patch in flower|
The most important thing we said, though, is Tim’s famous dictum—be an ant. Move one grain of sand/thing at a time instead hurting yourself trying to juggle an impossible number of them (a.k.a. BOMTYouCC). Your anthill/garden will get built. Barb already knows this, of course. It’s a truth I too-often fail to take to heart myself when bubbling over with ideas, visions and enthusiasm. (As my former husband the lawyer used to say, “People never take advice they don’t pay for.” That’s why Tim and I charge for giving consultations. Thanks, R.)
Here’s an example of incipient BOMTYCC. Two of our once-upon-a-time clients, whose original new-construction landscaping Tim and I designed and installed a decade ago, labor long hours enhancing and maintaining their lovely property. Like us, they’re not getting any younger; some tasks just aren’t as easily accomplished as they used to be. Tim’s always saying condo-living looks more and more attractive as the years flit by. Bill’s starting to agree. I know that if you argue for your limits, you get to keep them, but seems like wisdom to not work yourself to death either.
a) there was no way to maneuver even a small Bobcat into the backyard site for clearing, spreading dirt, or transporting the several requisite tons of stone and mulch, not to mention all the plants: all such labor would have to be done by hand and wheelbarrow—ka-ching! and
b) the level of maintenance necessary to keep the garden looking good was problematic. When Tim enquired who would be in charge of that aspect, the good doctor (pushing 80 at the time) said he couldn’t do it physically, and Mrs. Doctor said she never goes outside in summer because it’s too hot and there are too many mosquitoes. (No lie about that last. T and I dubbed the area The Biting-Insect Capital of North Carolina: believe me, state-wide competition for that title is intense.)
one of four cultivars
in my front-yard patch)
Today’s final case of BOMTYCC is also archetypal of how Tim regularly talks us out of income by telling the truth. Because we’re fastidious in our work habits and in love with the job (and also because we won’t work for people we don’t like), we usually become friendly with our clients. If they can help it, friends don’t let friends BOMTTCC. When invited to have their yard showcased in a local Garden Tour, some client/friends in turn asked our thoughts on the matter. At first T and I were excited by the prospect: prepping for tours has been lucrative for us in the past. It is also damned hard work. After a brief, internal struggle between the businessman and the friend, Tim said to Mr. D, “My business side wants to encourage you to go for it. We’d make a good buck and you’d get the accolades. On the other hand, as your friend, I have to advise against getting involved. Getting ready for a tour is a lot of work inside the house as well as out. It’s expensive. It’s always too damn hot on the Tour days. And most importantly, you don’t actually have a garden. You have a very nice, healthy, pretty yard, but nothing as focused as a garden.”
|First ripe strawberries!|
Thanks for dropping by, and for hanging in with this looong post.