by Nita Hill

I have a firm belief that I think was also expressed by Mark Twain: one should tackle the hardest things first. But I didn’t do that. After the city came to empty the green can. I rushed to the back and finish “trimming” the roses. (I still have no earthly idea how to do it correctly). Then I began by extracting grass from what I think is an asparagus bed. That was pretty easy. As I continued, I came upon a small iris patch ad had to dig them up to remove the grass and lots of rotted rhizomes.

Then there came the slope. At this point I moved from the horihori to the shovel. There was a problem though. I hit rock everywhere I tried to insert my “sharp shooter.” Returning to my horihori I found that some kind person had used rock to support the slope. Not large rocks that I could roll away but 3- to 4-inch rocks that had to be individually dug, removed and tossed aside. By the time I was less than 3 feet down the slope I had a garden wagon full of rocks. I had excavated from the Cenozoic into the Mesozoic.

Then there was the landscape cloth. There is a somewhat level patch at the bottom of the slope covered in mulch. I knew there was landscape cloth, because the week we moved here I had put a shrub in there for the winter and had to cut away the cloth. So as I inched my way down the slope I ran into the top edge of it. OK fine. But as I began to pull it back to remove the grass (the grasses had happily grown through it) it became suddenly heavy. It was damp but I began to realize that my slope was a cliff and it had to be smoothed and graded by the addition of 2 feet of mulch. Luckily I could haul the mulch to the “Very Ugly Tree,” where I had put down the cardboard. To my further surprise,the iris bed hadn’t ended at the top of the slope. There were irises under the cloth and mulch and some were still alive! “Irises buried alive rarely die” is the title of my next book.

At this point I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. There were several layers of landscape cloth and pounds of mulch to move. But I got pretty far with it. Today I scavenged Rudbeckia and a Peony and planted them in the cliff side with large stones around. Hopefully the rain won’t create a landslide.

As a further note, “The Very Ugly Tree” is a Norwegian Maple, its new name, because Loren, the young man From Pine Martin Tree Service, says so and he says it will be beautiful after he trims it. I happen to love him because he looks just like Napoleon Dynamite with very thick glasses.

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