In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
May, 2006
Regional Report

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This garden provides a comfy chair for contemplation.

Slowest Trowel in the Southwest

I claim the title of Slowest Gardener. This thought hovers in the back of my mind while situating a new plant or piece of garden art. I move it here, I move it there, I move it everywhere. And then I start the process all over again. I'm slow to pull out the spent cool-season annuals and replace with warm-season choices. It seems that sweet-faced pansies and fragrant stock are at their best about the time I should be incorporating some heat-lovers, so I delay the changeover.

Redoing a garden bed involves prodigious contemplation on my part. I stare at a space for undetermined amounts of time, trying to imagine what it would look like with this or that adjustment. Neighbors may worry that I've expired, I sit motionless for so long. My deep thoughts are interrupted only when Spot the Cat Who Loves to Sleep Under a Bush All Day has even had enough and howls at the door to be let inside.

I confess that I had a trellis in my backyard that took months (okay, four) to find a permanent home. In my defense, the soil is one grade softer than concrete, so once a hole is started, there's no turning back. Can't waste the kind of labor required to remove an inch of soil! To hold the feet of the trellis securely, I pounded 1-foot-deep holes with a heavy-duty metal stake and hammer, which caused my forearms to vibrate like a cartoon character banging on the ACME anvil. Surely, this excuses my protracted thought process?

I assumed my "careful deliberations" were invisible to others. Wrong. I was talking to a friend about his drip irrigation, expressing concern that some of his plants were receiving too much water. He recently purchased a house with an irrigation system that's an unknown entity. I suggested that I visit when it's running to take a close-up look at what's dripping where, and tell him what adjustments he should make. He responded that he'd give me "plenty of time" to think about what's happening with each plant, and busy himself with other chores in between making the adjustments. Not only do I acknowledge that I am the Slowest Gardener, the trait is obvious to others.

Oh well. Does it really matter how quickly garden endeavors are completed? In my view, gardens are Works in Progress and that's where the fun, joy, and relaxation is found. Speed doesn't factor into the equation. Besides, if I hurry up and "finish," then what would I do with myself? I'd just have to clean out the garage!


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