Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

Don't get any funny ideas!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guest post from Alexandra Heep

 My friend Alexandra Heep (you know her, she's into NASCAR and has a really nice blog to make you think, a sunflower patch for her cat Gracie to make you wish for summer and another blog to acquaint you with the obsurdities of life. Yes, you should check them out) wrote this story for a magazine in the hope of getting the prize offered. Well, much to my bewilderment, it wasn't accepted. So, she asked if I'd like to feature it here. Well, yeah, baby!Unlike that stupid magazine, I loved it. I guess that means I should pay her. We'll see about that.

My true gardening horror story by Alexandra Heep


Having grown up with a mother who had a green thumb and let me have my own garden plot, I have always longed to duplicate my childhood experience. Not only do I remember home-grown vegetables fondly (yes, I ate my vegetables), but of course also the beautiful flowers which attracted colorful butterflies.

I moved around a lot, so I always blamed my adult brown thumb on external circumstances, like climate and soil. Alas, my friends did not have these problems. So as the years went by, my determination grew. Unfortunately, my gardening spaces also shrunk - a reflection of economic times.

Eventually, I found myself in a cookie-cutter townhouse apartment with a concrete-slab patio, located in old suburbia in a humid city in the Mid Atlantic. Each patio had a white, wooden fence about 6-feet tall for a simulation of privacy. But, the only green to be seen was the strip of grass that ran between the building rows. It was rigorously and unceremoniously cut down on a regular basis by maintenance personnel to maintain an outward semblance of order in a disheveled community.

A writer friend of mine who heard of my plight suggested containers for gardening. I browsed some of his articles for a crash-course on container gardening and set out to plant flowers and vegetables in vessels of all sizes and shapes. For good measure, I kept some outdoors and some indoors. Regardless, after an initial growth spurt they all joined their unfortunate predecessors in plant-heaven.

Still not willing to give up, I perused my 10x10 patio, wheels turning inside my head. I just had to have some greenery! I needed something to spruce up this area. That is when I noticed that there was about a six-inch strip between the patio and the edge of the fence that the vicious, motorized lawn-eating monsters from management could not touch … and an idea began to take shape.

Off I went to the local gardening store and came back armed with several bags of soil. I proceeded to spread the soil on that six-inch grassy strip. “So far, so good,” I thought as I stood back and admired my handy-work. However, what to plant?

Back to the store I went, looking at flower seeds since I did not trust myself to transplant live plants. I was smart and read all the soil and temperature requirements on the back of the packet, since my patio faced the south and was really hot. Plus, we were in the midst of a drought so the plants had to be hardy. While some plant requirements sounded promising, the flowers were too short. I wanted tall flowers, nothing else would do.

“…thrives in full sun and any type of soil, especially if it is not moist or fertile. Height: 6 to 10 feet.” That sounded perfect. I turned the seed packet over to see what kind of flower this was, and even the name was pretty: Morning Glory. I was sold.

At home, I planted them mostly according to instructions but added some extra seeds because of my prior failures. Since I sowed them close to the fence, I omitted the suggested twine. To my delight, only a few days later I observed tender but healthy looking shoots. Every day they noticeably became taller and I grew happier. Could this be the time I finally managed to grow something and make it last?

After almost two months, they had grown to the top of the fence and provided me with the home-grown greenery I had craved for so many years. Even though they had not yet bloomed, looking at the abundant flora that enveloped the formerly white fence made me feel quite accomplished. I had done it, nothing could mar this accomplishment!
At the height of my success, I had to go away for about two weeks. I was concerned of course how my sweet morning glories might fare, but all in all hoped they would be fine since they had survived the heat this long. I needn’t have worried; instead I should have been afraid, very afraid …

When I came back and rushed to check on my little oasis in the concrete jungle, instead of death and destruction, the foliage had turned into lush vines worthy of a habitat for monkeys. Vines had not only encircled my patio table and all four chairs, rendering my little outdoor refuge useless, but grown over the concrete floor towards the patio door, trying to snake their way in to my living room.

It was creepy ... the Stephen King-kind of creepy. What was worse, this sweet-sounding plant had even grown to the side and over the partition on the neighbor’s patio to put a stranglehold on his potted cacti. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that my morning glory vines had a master plan to take over the neighborhood!

I knew I needed to stop this invasion, but was not sure how as I lacked the proper tools. Like a ruler threatened by the subjects of her unruly kingdom, I hid. I kept the blinds closed to the glass patio door, avoided my neighbors and hoped management would not knock on my door to slap me with a fine - or worse, oust me - all while visions of sinister vines coming into my home haunted me. At last, I called up a male friend, explained the situation, and asked if he could come over and help me. He laughed and said, “Don’t exaggerate, it can’t be that bad!”

When my friend showed up with simple garden shears in hand he took one look, and after some unprintable comments went home to get more powerful arsenal. In stifling 100-degree temperatures, he spent several hours hacking and slashing his way around the monkey retreat. Among plenty of sweat, some blood, and perhaps a few tears punctuated by the occasional burst of colorful language, he managed to eventually take all the vines out by the roots, but not before making me promise to never try to grow anything again.

Thanks so much, Alex. You're such a hoot! The check's in the mail! ;-)

4 comments:

  1. You are too funny! I am honored to be featured.

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  2. Great story, Alex. As soon as I saw "what" you planted, I knew you were in trouble. Morning glories have an agenda to take over the world. :-)

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  3. Perfect! Alex, you clearly have a green thumb. A very, very green thumb! You can grow anything. Try carrots and peas next time. Glory did it!... ":)

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  4. Morning Glorys. I'm completely equipped for plant and vine eradication and all I can manage with Morning Glory is a sort of stalemate.

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