I got a call last week form my sometime employers Elly and Eddie, the elderly couple from the Upper East Side whose garden I’ve worked on.
“Oh, Xavier, the garden’s run wild again, could you come over and trim it down?”
I said yes, and after some discussion about the lack of proper tools (she wasn’t able to borrow garden shears) I offered to pick up some on my way there. Elly told me she would reimburse me.
There are precious few hardware stores left in Yorkville, the few left are far in between, and as I found out yesterday none of them carry garden shears.
“This is the city. Who has a garden?” Said one Russian immigrant hardware store owner on Second Avenue. Elly and Eddie do, I was tempted to tell him.
I went to two other stores with less attitude but also no garden shears. There was other stuff to do in their home, so I soldiered on.
“We have these,” Elly said handing me a pair of cheap ten-inch shears. They were going to have to do. They were spring-activated and stiff. Elly had some WD-40 and that helped, but I kept having to oil them through the afternoon.
I was surprised at how much the foliage had grown back; it was like a jungle back there.
This is how I left the three hedge bushes the last time I was there:
This was how they looked yesterday:
The thing is, if you want to promote new growth, you cut, and that’s what you get, lots of new growth. I guess it takes a lot to keep up with nature.
Elly also wanted the wisteria vine cut back drastically; it was sort of overwhelming the garden. That was to be my main priority, besides beheading the bushes, which were incredibly lush, much fuller than when I first met them a couple of months ago.
The wisteria covered the entire fence top to bottom, and was growing into the yards on all three sides of Elly’s yard. It was going to be tough with the miniature shears.
Luckily there is a lot of shade in their yard, so at least the sun wasn’t beating down on me. It was still tough going, requiring a lot more effort than if I’d had proper 16 or 20-inch shears with long handles.
The mini-shears had a one-handed squeeze mechanism that succeeded in giving me a couple of blisters. Maybe next time I’ll be smart enough to bring some work gloves along.
It was actually pleasant being outside and running my hands through the lush green leaves and basking in the rich aroma of the cut foliage, which at times smelled like fresh cut basil. And as I watched vines and leaves and branches grow in volume on the ground beneath me there was a growing sense of accomplishment, and also knowing that the wisteria vine, now denuded of most of it’s leaves would grow back with a vengeance gave me a sense of purpose, of service. I was helping not only Elly and Eddie, but I was helping the plants in the garden grow and co-exist a little better.
After a couple of hours I was done with the trimming, then it was time to gather up the massacred leaves, vines, and branches and stuff them into garbage bags. I wish I knew someplace I could take it all and turn it into mulch, it seems a big waste to just put it all in the garbage. I filled three large garbage bags with the debris and took them outside to the eave under the stoop where the garbage cans are kept.
Elly paid me and we found a proper pair of shears on line which Elly promised to order to have handy for the next time, which will probably be next month by the amount of rain we’ve been getting.
It’s been a good summer for plant life in New York, and it’s actually been a pretty good summer for me as well, doing things and meeting people I would not have met if I’d still been standing behind the front desk at 144 bored out of my skull and wishing I could be outside someplace nice.