We have an old tradition in my family; holidays are never complete without doing some work in the yard. And in spite of the fact that my father is getting up there in years and that he had bypass surgery in 1998, he still likes to get out there and dig and plant and prune. So does my mom.
In spite of this lifelong immersion in suburban horticulture, I don’t know a heck of a lot about planting and what goes where. When Allen and I owned a house, I took care of the lawn (how hard is that?) while he did the planting of the flower beds. (That reminds me of the story where Dorothy Parker was challenged to use the word “horticulture” in a sentence and she replied, “You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.”) So it was good to have my folks take a look at the place and concur with the advice of friends and neighbors: it wouldn’t take a lot of work to really get the place looking good.
On Wednesday we walked around the yard and they threw ideas left and right: “Need to cut that back,” and “Plant something over there,” and so on. We made a trip up to the Home Depot in Little Havana, picked up some vegetation and garden implements, and yesterday afternoon, after our tour of Vizcaya and lunch in Coconut Grove, we got to work. We got a lot done and learned a lot, too – did you know that bouganvilia has thorns? (Sharp ones, too.) We excised a Florida holly tree that was taking over a corner of the lot. We displaced a colony of doodlebugs (ant lions) that had dug their little pits in the planter next to the front door with some attractive plants that will grow and fill in. We put down four bags of eucalyptus mulch and raked and watered. We got dirty and tired, but it was like the old days around the house.
It’s one of the advantages of living in Florida that you can garden and plant year-around. Of course, that also means you have to keep after it year-around. But I’m willing to make the sacrifice.