Re: [gardeners] Hoist in my own petard

penny x stamm (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 00:36:29 -0400

Margaret, you're near Boise, are you not? Is this cool
weather normal for the last day of August...? 

If so, that's a mighty short growing season for you folks!
Today was heavenly -- perhaps 75*, blue skies. One in a

'Round about  3:00  o'clock,  Jimmie was hand picking 
clover out of the front lawn (he's a maniac...) so i picked up 
a bucket and a pair of hand clippers and a dandelion digger,
and wandered across the front yard. Found zero crab grass,
and 2 dandelions.....   ok, might as well prune out those few
dead branches on that big azalea, no problem.  One of a
bank of 20 Hino Crimson azaleas, this one had suddenly 
decided to drop dead from drought and excess heat. I stuck a
schpritzing sprinkler right underneath it for 2 hours, but to
no avail. Two weeks later we found that the entire bush had
sprung to life with fresh baby leaves!  What a thrill --- I could
never have replaced it with anything of similar size, after 15
years!  Only a tiny section was dead...[sigh of relief..]

Then I pruned a bit on some Mountain Laurel. And as I turned
around, I reralized that the passgeway thru to the back had 
become overgrown so it must have been hard for Jimmie to
get thru with the lawn mower. I pruned back the rhododendron
'Sappho', huge white trusses with a ruby throat, in spring. The
plants had grown into a true jungle in 15 years, actually reaching
about 11 feet in height. Knowing that I always deadhead my 
rhodies, to save the strength in the plants for flowering, I worked
my way around the jungle, snipping, pruning and deadheading
a bit here and a bit there. Gradually I found myself at the far end of 
the planting -- perhaps 18 massive rhodies -- and I saw a dead
flower cluster almost out of reach, so I climbed into the forest. 

Now I ain't no dainty lass.  I'm a pleasingly plump <?>,  wobbly
old woman, with a bad foot, a tight shoe, and an aching back. But
certain things simply have to get done, you understand. I could
never send Jimmie in there to do the job, because his elbows
and his knees and his rump and his shoulders and his tall head
would all have fractured the forest. So I quietly worked my way thru 
and around the confluence of the rhodie bed and the pink azalea
bed alongside. With careful manipulation of my body parts, I did
manage to get thru, v-e-r-y slowly, pruning all the time.  I was
very happy that rhodies are such a pleasure to work deep within, 
never seeming to harbor insects, but I did have a hard time 
keeping my sun visor on my head.  I could not squat to lay it on the
ground -- the branches were too dense. And I just could not reach 
outside of  the rhodie canopy to toss the thing....   so I finally  stuck

it down  inside my shirt.  

About 3/4ths of the way across, I noticed that the sun had radically 
moved in the sky and was blazing into my eyes so I could not make
out the spent flower heads. Wondered what time it was.......

At last I had reached the last barrier of 5 intertwined granddaddies
of the group, and gee whiz, but there was no way for me to turn 
around in there!  Could not reach the last terribly tall dead heads,
could not bend, could not climb,  uh ---- could not escape.....  I tried
lifting the branches, but forget it!  The trunks were over an inch in
diameter. Tried pushing them down, no luck. Tried stepping thru
a rhodie carefully, lifting my leg up by grabbing the cuff of my jeans,
and then sidling thru the opening. Got stuck. Could neither move
backwards nor forwards, could not turn or bend or climb, in short,
I was imprisioned!  I yelled for Jim, but no answer.  He must have
picked up his tools and gone inside. 

Suddenly I recognized my neighbor's voice talking to Jimmie --
they couldn't see me, but I was only 40 ft away. "Edgar!" I shouted,
"TELL JIMMIE I NEED HIM!!!!  I heard Edgar tell Jim Penny needs
him, and then I heard Jim's answer, "Which pants must i wear?
Will I be working in the garden?"  Evidently he had removed his
jeans because they were too grassy to wear into the house.. 

"NO!" I shouted. "JUST WEAR ANYTHING!".. and Edgar told him 
that  I was somewheres deep in my garden, even tho he could not 
see me. 

I waited. Nothing. Nobody. The sun was moving further down the
sky. No Jimmie. No joggers. No  Edgar. No neighbors. I tried
shouting, but I was all alone in the wilderness -- I kept thinking
about all those people cast adrift in a little boat, who must say,
"All that water and not a drop to drink!"  Here I was in my own 
front yard, in a town of 25,000 people,  with police patrols and
school busses and UPS trucks and folks walking their dogs, and
I could not escape from my prison!  

Now let me tell you -- that grove of rhodies is one of my all-time
favorite plantings. It is spectacular in spring, and handsome in 
summer, and lovely in winter...  and I HAD to make the decision 
to bust my way out.  I lifted up my left foot and stuck it thru a space
between branches  -- then I gave a mighty heave, and catapulted 
my body out onto the lawn!  Without even a look back, I picked
myself up and headed for the front door.  Leaning on the bell until
Jimmie came flying,  there I was -- totally dishevelled, bloody
sleeves, torn jeans, with the look of the Dragon Lady on my face. 

"Where on earth have you been....???" I asked.  "Working on the
computer." "Why? Didn't Edgar tell you I needed you?" "Uh, sort
of. Last I remember was asking which pants I should wear, and
then I sat down at the computer! You didn't say it was an emergency..." 
"WHAT????" I screamed.

Well, he gave me a big hug, brought me inside, poured me an icey
cold daiqueri, and took me out for dinner. But he cannot bring back
the broken rhodies ...
Penny, NY

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