Joco Diversions

Emily Parnell — A case of our gardens, ourselves

Updated: 2013-07-23T20:11:36Z

By EMILY PARNELL

Special to The Star

The ground cover plants I’ve been nurturing 0over the last few years are finally living up to their names. They’re covering some ground.

The tiny plants I placed throughout the flower beds, then carefully divided so they would spread even more, are finally filling in the way I’d hoped they would. They cover the plain, brown dirt and prevent erosion; they keep out the weeds and help the moisture not evaporate from the ground. Plus, they’re pretty. I have all types — sedums, sweet woodruff, and others that I don’t know the names of.

I have been particularly taken with my thyme and my creeping jenny. Perhaps unnaturally so. I spend quiet mornings and evenings outside, hose in one hand, beverage in the other, watering them and enjoying their natural form. I delight to see how the thyme’s tendrils creep across the brick, filling between the cracks with its aromatic foliage.

The cascading leaves of the creeping jenny spilling from the edge of the flower beds, feeling their way onto the sidewalk in mounds and waves of greenery, brought a smile to my face. An actual smile.

That is, until the day I went outside to find them all chopped mercilessly, slashed severely anywhere they dared to venture from their assigned spots. It was the work of my husband, the maniacal weed whacker, with his buzzing instrument of neatness.

He did it while I was away — in order to surprise me. By surprise, he probably didn’t plan for me to gasp in horror, sickened as my stomach twisted in knots. Did I overreact? Maybe. But it was a shock to see the very plant I had admired so much the very day before chopped down at the stem.

“I cannot tell you how upset I am by what you did to the plants,” I said quietly, through clenched teeth, forcing myself to remain calm.

“What?” he asked, unable to comprehend how neatening up the sidewalk could upset me so. “I thought it looked good.”

I proceeded to properly school him on the natural beauty of thriving ground cover and the organic loveliness of its natural escape tendencies. They’ll grow again, but it might not be this season.

The problem, I suppose, all comes down to personality. One of us likes to color outside the lines, prefers the look of windblown hair, doesn’t wear a watch and loves all things eclectic. The other one irons clothing, is always on time, trims their hair weekly and fastidiously garnishes food. Nobody is wrong, we’re just different.

Needless to say, it’s hard to reconcile a yard where one gardener prefers a colorful, profuse, botanical free-for-all, and the other likes to unnaturally constrain their plants into tidy little allocations, contorted into boxes and balls and other geometric shapes. All this, on a tight budget, in the kid- and dog-trampled yard of an average suburban ranch, I might add.

But somehow, we work it all out. We’re two extremes, and for the most part, we temper each other. I keep my husband from winding so tight he snaps, and he keeps me from knotting up from the slack. It’s not always easy, but for the most part, we all benefit. That is, as long as he keeps his blades off my trailing ground cover.

Freelancer and Overland Park mom Emily Parnell writes for Diversions each week.

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