Do I Still Have Garden Cred?

The following blog was written by our friend Jason for his April 15th post on Garden In a City, a wonderful blog about nurturing his garden in Chicago. You can find his blog here: gardeninacity

Posted on by gardeninacity

I almost couldn’t bring myself to write this post, because it’s kind of an embarrassing subject. But here it is: for the first time, I hired someone else to do spring cleanup in the garden.

Driveway Border
The Driveway Border after spring cleanup.

There was genuine guilt attached to this decision. Spring cleanup is probably the single  biggest maintenance job of the year, and every spring I would have the scratches, splinters, and aching back to prove I was an authentic horticultural hombre. I feared that hiring someone else to do it for me would undermine my gardening cred, leaving me as just another plant poser, a botanical wannabe.

Left Bank Border

The Left Bank Bed, all tidy.

But the thing is, this year my job required me to put in a lot of weekend hours in February and March, when I try to get most of the cleaning up done (weather permitting). And so I just figured, why go insane trying to stay on top of the gardening chores? I mean, I have a LOT of beds and borders to tidy up, so why not bring in some help?

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Front Island Bed and Front Foundation Border

Also, the design/build/maintenance firm I hired would bring a shredder to grind up all the garden debris and then lay it back down as mulch. Disposing of all those stems and so on is always a major pain in the butt. A lot of leaves and smaller debris gets left on the soil, but it can look messy.

west side of garage

West Side of Garage

So I hired the firm, which is called Greenwise (their website is here), and is based just about two miles from my house in Evanston. The arrangements were made in January, and they came and did the cleanup on April 4th.

Back Garden

Back Garden

In the weeks leading up to that date I emailed Jessica, the Greenwise horticulturalist, about every other day with reminders and useful tips (well, I thought they were useful) about what they should and shouldn’t do when they arrived for the job. (Be careful of emerging bulbs! The Clematis should be cut down to 18″! Don’t compact the soil! Should I send pictures to help them distinguish weeds from perennials?)

daffodils

No Daffodils were harmed in the cleanup of this garden.

Actually, I had planned to be present on April 4th so I could supervise the Greenwise crew but alas, I had to be out of town for work.

So when I returned from my work trip late last week I was apprehensive about what I would find. And what I did find was a remarkably tidy and  well-tended early spring garden. The garden debris was mulched. The trenches around the beds and borders were neat and sharp. The paths were swept clean.

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Ditto Siberian Squill.

I was left with profoundly mixed feelings. On the one hand, the garden looked great. On the other hand, I realized with sadness and a pang of jealousy that I was not the only person who knew how to take care of it. Maybe this is how a mother feels when she suspects that her child loves the nanny best of all.

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And newly emerging Grape Hyacinths and Prairie Smoke.

I’ve got to admit, though: I may hire these same people to do the spring cleanup next year.

Do you ever hire people to help take care of your garden?

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