The First Cut Is the Deepest

People, we are fighting in a WAR. Yes, it’s true, although by “we”, of course, I mean “me”. I am fighting in a war. My enemy? The garden. Yes, it is that time of year again: the time of year when I begin a relentless and monotonous cycle of fighting back the garden, only for it to grow like billy-o (Who IS Billy-O, by the way?), forcing me to fight it back AGAIN the very next week. * Deep sigh *

I hate our garden. I hate it with the kind of all-consuming hatred I generally reserve only for Crocs. It’s not a very big garden, but despite not being very big, it somehow manages to be extremely high maintenance – which I guess makes it a lot like its owner, now I come to think about it.

Anyway, this year I put off that first important grass-cutting for as long as I could. As anyone who hates gardening will tell you, once you’ve given the grass that first cut, that’s it, there’s no going back. You will have to keep re-cutting it every few days now for the rest of the summer, in a boring and occasionally dangerous procedure that will give you absolutely no pleasure at all. It goes a little bit like this:

1. It rains all week
2. On Saturday morning, just as you’re contemplating a long, leisurely lie in, the sky will clear for a few, brief hours, and the sun will come out.
3. While everyone else is enjoying this unexpected sunshine, you will have to rush to throw on your oldest clothes, and begin the backbreaking labour of GARDENING.
4. At some point during this hard labour you will burn your scalp. It will be painful to brush your hair for the next week. Despite this, you will forget to wear your hat again next week. Someone should slap you.
5. As you finish the aforementioned backbreaking labour, it will start to rain.
6. It will rain steadily for the next week, so you will not be able to actually use or appreciate the garden that you have so carefully tended.
7. Until the following Saturday, of course, at which point there will, once again, be a few precious hours of sunlight, all of which you will spend up to your knees in mud.

And the thing is, gardening is HARD WORK. On TV, they always make gardening look like a very genteel kind of activity, normally involving a pretty sun hat (gah) and one of those little pads which you kneel on while gently plucking some flowers, which you will later arrange tastefully around your beautiful home. Yes, Bree from Desperate Housewives, I am looking at you…

In real life, of course, gardening is nothing like that. NOTHING. Actually, gardening involves wearing your oldest clothes with a pair of wellies (mine have pink and orange flowers on them, but even so, people, EVEN SO!), and hauling a piece of machinery twice your weight over a piece of rain sodden ground until either it breaks or you do. Normally I am the one who breaks first. Then, this Sunday, as I roughened my hands and almost broke my back giving the garden that first tedious going over of the year, THIS happened:


Yes, that is my back: my battle scarred back, maimed by Public Enemy Number 1: the tree in our back garden. It reached out and maliciously scratched me as I bent down to work on the ground underneath it. It was the tree’s fatal mistake, for if you are a tree, you really, really don’t want to get on the wrong side of a woman who has an axe in her garden shed. I mean, I don’t think I actually DO have an axe in my garden shed, but I could get one. And trust me, if these hostilities are ever repeated, I totally will. The flora and fauna are not my friends. The garden is not a green and pleasant place: it is the scene of my torment every single weekend in summer. Still, at least I didn’t burn my head this time….

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  • Yeah… all year I've been talking about how I want to plant a lovely garden this year, but now that the time has come to do it… Well, it's just more fun to stay inside and catch up on the shows that have piled up on the DVR!

    May 1, 2008
  • The Americans call it Yard Work. I think they have a point.

    May 1, 2008
  • Tree: 1 Amber: 0


    May 1, 2008
  • Steph


    My dad had become a gardening freak. It's a bit scary. We have a patch of lawn that's about the same size of a handkerchief, but he's got *plans*. I foolishly offered to help him, but after reading this, I'm starting to regret it..

    May 1, 2008
  • Steph, don't do it! It always sounds like it might be fun, but you will break your nails, get your back scratched, and end up with sore muscles in places you didn't even know you had muscles. Also, unless you wear wellies, whatever shoes you try to garden in get ruined after one afternoon.

    I hate it so much that last summer Terry and I actually looked into hiring a gardener, but all of the ones we contacted failed to turn up when they said they would. Probably they'd heard about The Tree…

    May 1, 2008
  • Oh, I am so with you on this. My garden – if you can use that term – has occupied my every free summer thought for 8 years. I want a gorgeous garden that tells everyone how fabulously green and tasteful I am – I just don't want to ever have to actually do something to make it that way.

    Finally, after years of love-hate and "discussing" with my husband, I bit the bullet and got in a landscaper. It's going to cost a living fortune, but the damn thing is going to look good one way or another.

    May 2, 2008
  • Steph


    You've convinced me, Amber! I'm staying away from that garden. Plus I have pollen-allergies and ghost-pale skin that will burn in seconds, so it would be a suicide mission 😛

    May 2, 2008
  • K-Line – I so envy you your landscaper. I really, really want a gardener, but the finances won't allow it. And part of my problem is that I just can't get intersted in gardening, or flowers or anything related to flora and fauna. If I really cared about it, it would help a whole lot. As it is, I just care about it in my usual "neat freak" way, which sucks, really.

    May 2, 2008
  • Ouch!!

    May 5, 2008