Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Does A Gardener Do In The Winter?

(or... Why Am I Still Paying You In January?)

It was a fair question. After all it is January, we've just been through 15 straight days of below freezing nights, and the flower border is sparse, to say the least.
But when my client poses the question to me from behind the wheel of his pretty little silver roadster, I stop just short of rolling my eyes. I am in the process of blowing storm debris off his extensive driveway. And even as he says it, he wavers, a little unsure of the territory, knowing that he doesn't have much time and he could be presenting me with a soapbox.
"It's endless" is what I say, with a little sweep of my hand. He knows what I mean, and I know what he means.
Obviously he knows I'm there every week because his yard needs me. My primary function there is to keep weeds from winning, to keep flowers blooming, and to keep the potted plants from drying up.
If I wasn't there, he'd know it.
The oxalis would take over. Leaves would bury delicate winter annuals. The container plants on the patio would dry up. Dead limbs that fall on the shrubs would go unnoticed. Leaves and litter that collect on the sago fronds would remain, making an elegant plant look dirty and unkept. The vines... oh! those vines! would continue to weave a tapestry across the edge of the woods, blocking sunlight and choking the very trees that support them. The driveway would grow slick and mossy from the layer of damp leaves and litter that would collect. Little silver roadster would not like that. Nor would the patio furniture like it if I didn't clean the pine needles out from under the seats.
The unasked question is this: Why am I paying you more in January than I did in August? Simple answer? Because in January it is 65 degrees. In August, it is over 90 degrees, and the humidity is about 80%. In January, I can tackle those vines without fear of heat stroke. In August, I can barely make it through the necessary tasks of weeding, watering, and deadheading.
Bare with me a little while longer, good sir.

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