Saturday, October 2, 2010

On Reliability

I have never had the pleasure (such sarcasm!) of employing contractors to renovate or construct, to add to or subtract from any parts of my house. But many friends have done so, and each one relates the universal tale of the irresponsible, unresponsive, lackadaisical contractor—the one who shows up when he feels like it, as if he is doing you a favor.
Until now.

In a previous blog entry, I discussed plans to redesign the East Side Shade Bed (hereinafter referred to as the ESSB?). The ESSB needs height and year-round architectural interest. Months ago, I purchased the handsome Kerria japonica, but he has not fared well in this summer of extremes (not to mention the poor soil in which I planted his roots). And did he protest! As protestors of any sort always attract, Kerria was soon the paramour of many a leaf-eating insect, which resulted in a veritable orgy that stripped him nude. His lovely green-yellow bones, with nary a leaf to guard his now exposed nakedness, are the only reminders of a plant that once thrived, of a masculine fortitude that refuses to succumb.

And so the garden contractor moved him to the center of the ESSB, sure to ground his roots in rich compost.

And by a stroke of serendipity, I found a Serrated Japanese Laurel (Sawtooth Aucuba japonica Serratifolia, pictured below) at the garden center, days after writing about desired, non-deciduous, non-conifer, shade-loving shrubs to situate in the ESSB. And the contractor planted that at the end of the bed nearest to the entrance to the rear garden. The ESSB was beginning to take shape.

But then the August heat and humidity returned, and garden renovations were put on hold. This was understandable, of course, as plants do not like to be transplanted in extreme conditions.
And then classes began, and the contractor once again failed to work.

And then I bought Shenandoah Switch Grass to create a new bed to border the stone patio, and planted those. I found two dwarf Firepower Nandinas to fill in the space between the grasses—once the bed is filled in, this will create a perfect medium-height wall, thus creating a distinct patio garden room—but those remain above ground. What were the excuses this time? Other work, and the Thursday-Friday remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, which dumped 4 and 5/8 inches of rain on the gardens at 410. Today, Saturday, was to be an intense gardening day, with most of the renovations and new plantings tobe completed.

But the contractor is now sick.

Yes, sick. It’s always something, it seems. Good help is hard to come by these days, and reliability is a vanishing virtue.  We can really only rely on ourselves.

But, dear reader, I must let you in on a little secret. The problem is that the contractor is me. As much as I love gardening, and as much as gardening keeps me sane, life has perpetually interfered with my renovation plans.  I cannot even rely on myself.

And yes, that sound you just heard was me sighing, an indication of deep annoyance with my own indolence and frustration that the only contractor I could rely upon is, well, unreliable.

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