Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Dirty Secret

Some visitors wonder how I can grow rhododendrons and a variety of unusual woodland perennials here in Iowa, the land of corn and ragweed, especially considering that the soil in our hilly woodland is a particularly pernicious form of clay, which in dry weather (which seems to be a yearly occurence anymore), sets up like concrete. Iowa has the reputation of being a Garden of Eden, with thick layers of black, loamy soil. Unfortunately, most of that topsoil from hilly areas, now resides in the Gulf of Mexico, having washed downhill and downstream long ago. What I've done over the years, through four different gardens (which each seemed to outdo the last in the paucity of good soil) is to actually dig out most of my flower beds to a depth of about two feet, and refill the hole with good, loose soil. Above is pictured a future azalea bed, so it will be refilled with a mixture of peat, topsoil, sand, and composted pine bark... in this case about three tons worth, all done with a shovel and wheelbarrow. Why I didn't invest in a Bobcat, at the beginning of all this is one of the great mysteries of my life. I console myself with the thought that, since I consume about 4000 calories a day (I am eating a bag of Cheese Nips as I type this), I would by now weigh about 1500 pounds instead of 150 pounds, if I had not had the exercise involved in constantly digging holes in the ground and filling them in again. I figured out once that I have moved about 2 million pounds of dirt over the years. If ever there is an earthquake in the midwest, I may be responsible. Posted by Picasa

This reminds me of

A garden is a lovely thing
But gardens are not made
By saying "Oh how beautiful"
And sitting in the shade!

Rudyard Kipling, I believe
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