Wild kingdom: Attempting to subdue my overgrown backyard
By Patricia Baer
If your home is your castle, then mine has become a wild kingdom. At times my backyard reminds me of one of those earth-after-humans-type shows I sometimes stumble across while flipping through cable channels. There was a break between the previous owner’s maintenance of it and my baby step attempts to master its seasonal needs. The results are a few semi-overgrown areas that probably once were well manicured, weeds being given free reign since I cannot tell my flowering invaders from actual flowers, and a few naked patches of ground.
I have a hint of a path in the yard to a corner where I wonder if a picturesque sitting area was designed. It seems to be some place that was visited often, whatever it was. I recently discovered a perfectly round spot of mostly dirt in a location I can imagine was ideal for a birdbath that should have been seeded in the spring so lawn would sprout to cover the worn-down site.
I have irises that I know need to be halved but out of neglect have now occupied the surrounding grass’ turf. I look at the hostas with wariness and fear they are really an alien life form bent on growing until they consume all of the flower bed in which they reside and then form pods “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-style to abduct the neighborhood residents.
The item I wish nature would reclaim is the clothesline posts. I am not a freshly aired laundry kind of gal. I know some are devoted fans of this open-air dryer, and I can appreciate its attributes. However, it is just not in the cards for me.
My bias comes from a place of childhood trauma. My grandmother loved the crisp smell the country air gave her clothes. Trying to share this sensory favorite of hers, she instructed me to take a whiff of a shirt after we pulled it from the line. As I was about to inhale deeply from the fabric, I came nose to nose with a small beetle. With a startled cry, I began vigorously shaking the knit top to lose the creepy crawly and spent the rest of the summer doing the same each morning to all of my clothes, the memory of nearly snorting a bug never far from my mind.
My plan is to plant morning glories and moonflowers at the base of the structure and wind the vines through a maze of twine I string across the open space to create the impression that the plants spontaneously reclaimed the unused man-made item in an artistic display. At least one of the posts will come down eventually, but I am warming to some of the suggestions folks have been making, including incorporating it into my future garden. If the flowers take, it may stay as a nod to the previous monarchy.