Chores-Before and After

Riding the roller coaster that passes for weather here in Tennessee, gardening must be done on the up slope quickly because the temperature will zoom back down very soon. Yesterday was the warmest day we have had in the last week. Although windy, outside we must go!

One small problem, and it is a small one, is a sore wrist, the left, and I am unfortunately left handed. This is the first time the brace had to be applied because of overdoing not gardening, but computer work. The Blog! There is a long list of seasonal chores to be done before spring sneaks up on us and the heat returns. Let’s check the list for a task that does not involve wrist bending.

The light weight job that was planned for this warm day was the trimming of the annual dianthus. Annual usually means there is no housekeeping to be done after winter ravages the foliage, the plants are thrown in the compost at the end of summer, but in this case some of these have survived, about half of the original plantings done two years ago in the new bed in front.

Even though this is a non taxing task, it requires a wrist angle to cut that is not possible with the brace. Rats. What else can we do?

Ah, the yearly mowing of the monkey grass along the three sections of street front plantings. Being on a slope and not really caring for lawn, liriope was planted in several rows along the street to control weeds and give some uniformity to a hodgepodge planting spanning 200 feet of frontage. Planted within all this monkey grass are hundreds of daffodils, ‘Salome’ to be precise. If the grass is not tidied early, the daffodil foliage will emerge into the brown mops, detracting from the vision of loveliness. Normally the mowing happens in January but it seems something is occupying my time this year, could it be The Blog? Trusty and true, the electric mower had its blade sharpened for the first time in its eleven year lifespan and should do the job neatly and cleanly.

Two passes were made in the middle bed when old trusty kicked the bucket. Rats again. Hop into the vehicle and off to the big box store. “No ma’am, we didn’t order any electric mowers this year”, says the sales associate. He must have sensed the tears welling up and added ” But there is one left over from last year ” as he pointed to a large box on the top of the shelf near the ceiling. “I’ll take it” was the reply. Surprised he suddenly remembered that there might still be an assembled mower outside marked down! Marked down, did you hear that? Luck was with me , the purchase was made, and within minutes the new mower was rolling along cutting crisply.

Now the downside to all things electric is the cord. We have several very long cords and lots of outdoor receptacles. I made sure when the remodeling and building projects were done that there was no shortage of water faucets and plugs both indoors and out. A friendly tip, pay for the extra plugs and water outlets, you won’t regret it.

Here is the before photo of plot number one, in front of the main house. The liriope is beginning to look messy. By the time the daffodils bloom it will look terrible. I know this because the first year nothing was done to the grass. The peach and cream trumpeted blooms were not enhanced by the underplantings. Liriope is used extensively around the neighborhood to edge lawn plantings and sidewalks. It eliminates having to trim the edge when mowing and forms boundaries around beds, is easily divided and mostly evergreen. And cheap. The timetable for cutting it back is around March 1 with a weed eater, but that won’t work here with the daffodils already tall by then and I hate those string trimmers. We got rid of ours long ago, there is always a problem with the string needing replenishing. The mower works for me.

Here is the after shot from the other end, by the mailboxes, just to give some added interest to the shot. Come on up daffodils, we are ready for you.

The before shot of the middle bed, in front of the garage and driveway. This bed contains more than the monkey grass. Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, black seeded feather grass has seeded among the liriope. Daylilies and hostas join the nigella and lamb’s ear along this vast expanse. Junipers and crepe myrtles replaced the pampas grass at each end.

Somewhat tidier now, hey, there are those hideous gold ball junipers. Add that job of replacing them to the seasonal chore list, pronto!

The final bed under the large pines. This is an easy one, only about twenty feet long.

There. All done for another year. It is somewhat hard physically to get this job finished but feels so good to have it neatly cut. If the day comes when it is not possible to push the mower over the large clumps, it can remain undone. I can live with that.

One more job that is behind schedule, the tossing of the fertilizer on the beds. One bag is not enough to cover all the plantings, so the most needy will get fed, this time it is the wall area behind the main house. But wait, what is that blur in the left of the photo?

It is Kitty giving his approving rub to the organic fertilizer. Glad you gave it your blessing Kitty, we don’t want anything added to the garden that might harm you or any of the other wildlife and domesticated life here at Faire Garden.
Post Script: As the button will be pushed to publish this post, it is snowing.

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17 Responses to Chores-Before and After

  1. Gail says:


    Hello. I am really enjoying your blog and have set about the task of reading your earlier posts…Thank you for your blog. It has been an inspiration to me and a big help….see below!

    I was shocked to discover that there are only three Tennessee bloggers. I just couldn’t believe it! So I decided to start a blog. Wow, it has been harder than I thought it would be. I have even more respect for all the bloggers out there! There are so many things to think about..and I am still searching for my authentic voice, one that has something of interest to say!

    Thanks for listening,

  2. Annie in Austin says:

    What fun to follow you around Frances – how nice to get a bargain on the mower and I hope your arm will soon be better.

    I hope there’s still time for me to cut back my liriope, too – it’s used extensively in my neighborhood too, so my house had long borders of it when we moved in. Thanks for the interesting post and the reminder!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Frances says:

    Gail…Thanks and welcome. Hope you enjoy the older posts, a lot of love went into them. Blogging is enjoyable and worth the effort, getting to know other gardeners from all over the world through their pictures and stories is wonderful.

    Annie…Thanks. I’m sure you can still cut your liriope, the only reason it is an early job here is the daffs growing within, don’t want to cut their little heads off.

  4. Weeping Sore says:

    What a lot of work! I got tired just looking at all you did. Your kitty picture is a lovely final pic: how nice the cat approved of the fertilizer.
    I’d be afraid my not-too-bright kitty would run away if left loose in the yard.

  5. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Errrrrrr, Frances correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t you just write a looooong post with that poor wrist of yours that is supposed to take it easy? Oh boy, you’ve got it bad, this blogging bug. 😉

    But it was fun to read! Whoo hoo for the marked down electric mower! Paying for extra plugs and water outlets is sound advice!

    I’m rooting for the dafs to appear but the appearance of that cute kittycat will do me nicely too!

    You’re haing snow? We’re having minus 5 C nightfrost; winter is back!!

  6. Frances says:

    Weep…Thanks, I was very tired last night after all that strenuous work. We have two kitties, one that stays inside all the time, not to be trusted outside, and Kitty who likes to just hang around when I’m working, he stays indoors 99% of the time. He is a good squirrel chaser when they try and raid the bird feeders.

    YE…You caught me! The typing is slower and more difficult with the brace, but it keeps the wrist stiff and really helps. Normally it needs to be worn when a lot of planting with the hand spade has been done, although I am learning to dig with a stab and pull motion instead of scooping. I have braces for both arms and put them on as soon as there is pain, it helps alot. It is snowing now and is very cold and windy. :-<

  7. WiseAcre says:

    About the only outdoor chore I have to do right now is shovel snow. I’m afraid it will never end. Here’s to a blooming of daffodils soon – yours, mine and everyone else waiting for spring.

    I too am attempting to read old posts. The problem or should I say joy is I have a lot of catching up to do since I’m new to the ‘community’. (8 tons of rock is nothing when you go to use it, lol)

  8. Frances says:

    wiseacre…Thanks for stopping by and welcome! Not enough snow here to shovel, although we have two in the garage just in case. I admire your stone work and just the transport of those boulders earns our respect!

  9. kate smudges says:

    I wonder if the sore wrist isn’t due, in part, to all the ‘pick me’ clicking you were doing! 😉 Seriously though, my index finger was getting stiff and sore and was interfering with knitting.

    Your post was enjoyable to read. What a lovely cat!

  10. Frances says:

    kate…You are right about the picking problem. It feels so much better to just pick the ones you like instead. I was away for the weekend and had lots of catching up to do, and simply overdid it. Kitty says thank you.

  11. jodi says:

    This was fun, Frances, except for the part about your wrist hurting! Glad you were able to find another mower and that Kitty approved the fertilizer. And here I was reading along, when we came to the last sentence about it snowing there. I laughed right out loud! It snowed here all day today, and now I think it’s turned to rain…which is going to be a mess. WINTER!

  12. Frances says:

    Jodi…Thanks. Our winter has been colder that usual for longer periods between the warm days. I saw your pictures of the garden, what you could see of it, that is. Pretty and protected by that covering, but that doesn’t help the humans!

  13. Anonymous says:

    kitty is such a good garden helper! What a great deal on the mover. Love semi

  14. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, I got sore all over just reading your post. Whew. Your garden is worth it though. It is lovely.

    Your electric mower brought back memories. At my second house I had an electric mower. I had a postage side lawn and just a row of pink and white petunias during summer. I was very young then…
    Your mower was a great bargain.

    Like I have said before my mondo or lirope is being trimmed by the rabbits. Grrrrrr I would rather do it myself when the snow and ice melts.

  15. Frances says:

    semi…yes, good

    Lisa…I guess our rabbits are gourmets, they prefer the crocus flowers. double grrrr.

  16. chuck b. says:

    I’m left-handed too! 🙂

  17. Frances says:

    chuck b…why does that not surprise me?

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