When change happens in the garden with little or no effort, 4-16-2015

By Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record

High marks for the guys from Earl’s Plumbing who managed to move a ton of earth without ruining the plants in my yard. Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record
The yard has been torn up, tossed around and put back together, but not because of any effort on my part.

I haven’t done much of anything in the four weeks I’ve been home after surgery.
About 14 friends have asked if I planned to finish my screenplay while off from work. Wouldn’t it be nice to do some “personal writing,” they suggested.

It sure would be nice to be inspired or motivated to do something useful.

Mostly I’ve been inspired to drive the motorized shopping carts at Costco and Trader Joe’s. For the first two weeks, a little escape from the house was the highlight of my day.
In some of my spare time I have devoured trash magazines and eaten copious amounts of dark chocolate.

My main motivation has been to binge-watch television shows I had only heard about through social media. After absorbing seasons 1-4 of “Game of Thrones,” I woke up one morning mumbling about my disdain for King Joffrey.


Meanwhile, some very nice men from Earl’s Plumbing dug a trench just outside my front door. The depression was three-feet deep and connected my little cottage to the city’s sewer system.

The old septic tank may have dated back to World War II and may be responsible for the plume of nitrates that exist throughout the Avenues.

At the edge of the yard is a towering maple tree that looks like it was planted in Annie Bidwell’s days.
I’m worried about that tree now. Did the landmark tree grow so tall and robust because it was given water from my previous septic tank and all the “nutrients” it could ever need?

While the work was being done outside my door, I peeked through the window several times an hour. I was tempted to set up a lawn chair outdoors. However, my boyfriend said it was inappropriate to sit outside in my pajamas and act like a construction crew supervisor.

Instead, I offered them ice water and checked on their progress.

These guys from Earl’s Plumbing were pretty darn conscientious. They moved potted plants out of the way and even managed to leave the poppies intact. All this was without asking.


After they had completed the job, the walkway to the front door looked like a campground.

If you’ve camped, you may know this kind of dirt – loose and soft. When you walk, you drag a cloud of brown around with your feet.

This type of dirt soon reaches your kneecaps and you need to take off your socks before they are ruined.

Next, the rain came. The soft, billowy dust turned to soggy, squishy black mud. We didn’t just take off our shoes at the door, we left the shoes on the front porch so we could wash them off with the hose.

My boyfriend was quick to call for delivery of a giant truckload of gravel.

Lucky for me, I just had surgery. My boyfriend was smart and enlisted the help of the neighbor.

Work on aesthetics

Now I have a delightful new project.

With the walkway brand new with gravel, I’m slowly creating a new hidden garden.

We covered an entire picnic table with potted plants, which acts like a partial “fence,” blocking the view of the street.

Because we moved last year, and because of the drought, I now have 47 plants in pots.

I counted them.

This includes many one-gallon containers, as well as at least half a dozen 15-gallon planters. Then there are the trees, including a container-sized Meyer lemon, an olive, the newly-acquired fig tree and a few mystery trees. A buddleia (butterfly bush) was recently placed in a Smart Pot.

Repotting plants is a great little job for my current level of doctor-recommended activity. My boyfriend dumped the potting soil in the wheelbarrow and I’ve had fun giving old plants new homes in larger containers.

When this is all done, I’ll have several empty containers to fill.

You know what? They have motorized shopping carts at several big-box nurseries. If I hurry, I might be able to buy some bare-root plants from the clearance rack.three

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