Re: [gardeners] Hoist in my own petard

George Shirley (
Wed, 01 Sep 1999 10:56:01 -0500

penny x stamm wrote:
> .
> 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
> million.
> '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
That was certainly an adventure Penny, wish I could have seen it. I'm
still chortling after reading your post and Miz Anne came in and read it
over my shoulder. I think you're her kind of woman because it certainly
sounds like something she would do. Glad you weren't more seriously
injured though.