Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sorticulture this weekend

I'm late in posting this. Sorry for the last minute. Lots of things going on - not the least of which was a water emergency the other day. Don't ask. Oh ok. I have to tell. I've been spending weeks on the front bushes. Taking them out I mean.

For the last month or so I've been hacking away at the two gigantic laurel bushes that were stupidly planted (not by us, the previous owners) right up against the house between the sidewalk and the foundation. For years I've battled those bushes, trimming them back like crazy, only to have them grow a foot in a week and flop over the sidewalk again. You couldn't even get to the front door anymore without trampsing through the flower bed on the other side of the walk to get in the house.

Then when we did the work downstairs we discovered the roots had come clear through the foundation and started growing in the basement. It was causing all kinds of trouble inside and out. It was time for them to go. So I decided heck yeah I can just rip them out myself. No problem. Right. I sawed and hacked each week until the giant yard waste bin was overloaded. Then the next week I did it again. I think it was a solid four weeks of branches and limbs. Until I got down to the two trunks sticking up out of the dirt. I started digging with my shovel. And axing. The first one would hardly budge.

Hopes dashed, I started calling around for stump grinders or someone to help. But since we live up a flight of stairs from the street, there was no equipment that could be used. I kept hearing "just dig it out by hand." So Saturday afternoon I donned the gloves and started in earnest. When I finally got the first trunk out I was ecstatic! Bliss! All my hard work and I finally did it - a hole in the ground!

That lasted about two whole minutes. I went back to get a piece of big-ass root that was caught up against the house foundation and it was really stuck in. Pushing and pulling, I felt a give and then whoooooosh - water started gushing up, making a swimming pool in the blink of an eye. I had dislodged the water main. My heart sank at the same time I ran for the shut off at the front curb. No budging it. Ran for the basement, muddy boots and all, to get tools. Ran back to the curb and finally got the water shut off. Emergency calls to plumbers, so sad.

Realistically, I knew that was going to happen. There was no way that giant root system was NOT wrapped around the water main line right there. It had come apart few years back for the same reason. I'm convinced that it was already slow leaking, the dirt seemed much damper than it should have been for that dry spot under the eaves.

What happened next was hours of panic and frantic calls. In a nutshell, there are no parts for that stupid piece of pipe from the street. They tried to convince me I needed to spend thousands and dismantle my new landscaping walls to re-dig the main line. I tried to convince them that I was not stupid and not rich. They then found a lovely fitting that worked, and a nice solid piece of copper pipe and fixed it for me. A few hundred bucks. Not a few thousand. I'm good to shower. But almost had a heart attack.

My next project? Removing a clump of bamboo that's like 30 feet high and crammed in a two foot space between the house and the patio up against the fence (again, bone-headed move of the previous owners, not me). I've spent hours the last few days trying to find a rescuer. But I'll still be digging the rhizomes out for months and years anyway. It's poking up through the patio stones again this summer, dropping leaves and messy junk all over my dinner and I just can't live with it any more. But it's beautiful and it should have a much roomier home. So we're trying to find a new owner for it.

Oh, and I'm doing a show this weekend. A gardening show. Did I forget to mention it? That was the whole purpose of the blog today. Sorticulture. If you like plants and gardening, you really should go. It's gorgeous and fabulous, filled with rare finds, new and lovely plants, garden art, funky stuff. Everett, this weekend. Link to all the seminars and talks and special guests and entertainment HERE. Plus hours and directions and map and stuff. It's free and the view is beautiful from that park up there. I so look forward to this show every year.