I Know How Your Garden Grows

A little known fact about me: I spent two full summers of my life running my own gardening business. It paid the University bills (mostly), which almost make the fact that I gave myself some wicked carpel tunnel worth it. (That, and the fact that because I spent so much time in the sun, I went from being the perpetual red-head that never tanned, to the pale person who now manages to get a vague glow… In retrospect, I think tanning for me was a "learned" behavior... I just had to coax it out.)

The summer prior to “Emily’s Lawn and Garden Business”, I worked at a garden center. I put the little knowledge I gained working there to use. As it turns out, if you are going to be “a gardener for hire”, it helps to know how to adequately, water, feed and plant in appropriate shade/sun.

"The business" got a kick start when I was printing up some flyers at a copy shop in a nearby town. Someone in line waiting for the copier asked if I would do some work for them. After I put out the flyers, I got a call asking if I aerated lawns (I didn’t). But, this shortcoming didn’t matter in the end because after the first request in the copy shop, I didn’t need any more than word of mouth to get a garden gig. Turns out, people like flower beds, but they rarely have the energy or time to take care of them.

Throughout these two summers, I managed dozens of customers within a hundred kilometer radius. I weeded in 40 degree heat + humidity. I was asked to rip out (rather uproot) an entire row of wild rose bushes that had been let go for probably upwards of two decades (Do you know how hard it is to uproot a wild rose bush, period?). I had creepy men spy at me through binoculars from adjacent yards. One week, I spent a lot of time digging out someone’s garlic chives (The garlic festered in the heat of my no-airconditioning car seats for weeks after that.) I got a huge riding lawnmower stuck in a ditch (I used my 115 lb frame to frantically push it out before anyone could notice). I weeded an entire private vineyard in Prince Edward Wine County. I got heat stroke. I worked long, hard days, always alone, tending to other people’s flower beds and lawns. There were many hours spent with my thoughts and black flies.

It’s hard (for me anyway) when you are gardening to keep yourself from singing that old nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” I made my own version by grumbling, “Mary doesn’t know how her garden grows, I do.”

At the end of the end of one summer, I went to a nail salon for a pedicure. There was just no sense in getting one before I was done for the season. The poor Asian manicurist working on my feet said… “oooo, wha you do to yo feet?” and then just kept shaking her head as she worked away at the layers of callused summer garden skin. (Embarrassing.)

Last weekend marked the (unofficial) kick-off of planting season in Ontario.

When we moved into our house, the garden in my backyard was limited to the area around the patio. Pffft!! They had no idea who they were dealing with.

I ripped up the grass along the fence and made myself a little spot to grow things. And then, because there still wasn’t enough room, I went the rest of the length of the yard.

A well-known fact: a garden grows when it’s watered (so do people for that matter). I know how your garden grows.

So how does my garden grow? My garden grows when it’s told to do so. That's the arrangement we've worked out in return for all my service to other peoples flower beds.