Friday, 6 May 2016
We stop at the post office every day because our little town does not have home mail delivery, so it easy to follow the progress of our volunteer garden there, and sometimes too easy to stop and weed for a few minutes or an hour instead of getting straight on to work. I find myself wondering if the people who do NOT compliment it (many do) just think it is messy. We’ve donated 99.9% of the plants and mulch and so it has quite an assortment. Looking at the photo as I create this blog entry makes me think again about something that happened later in the day.
The Red Barn
We did a quick checkup and weeding at the Red Barn and at Diane’s garden next door.
I forgot to take my camera when I walked across the pasture to Diane’s garden.
The Basket Case Greenhouse
I had three flats of plants to pick up for the Long Beach welcome sign.
a saddening work experience
I’m not naming the next job because I don’t want it searchable here, mainly because I think what happened today is a fluke that will blow over. I hope. I learned upon arriving today that an interim manager does not like our flower garden, the one we created as volunteers when my mom lived here and then kept as a job after she died, charging extra low “grandma rates” for the past six years. The labor budget keeps us limited to about an hour and a half a week maximum, so not every corner of the areas outside our flower beds (or in them) gets perfectly weeded. (It is not unusual for us to throw in a little time for free.) We mostly concentrate on our four flower beds; since the small center lawn was not getting mowed, we string trim it and have let some flowers like blue scabiosa and rose campion seed into it. The temporary Person in Charge used a word like “trashy” to describe the garden and, even though she was given our phone number, had already had one or two other people bid to WEED it. My first reaction was to turn and walk out and never go back, till I was assured the situation was temporary and the the WEEDERS had not actually been hired yet. The temporary Person in Charge was not there, and will be leaving next week, we were told. I was asked to please not quit. I went to look at the garden. It was NOT full of weeds and I think that someone does not recognize what is a weed and what is a perennial plant. Fortunately, no one had WEEDED which I believe have would have resulted in good plants getting pulled and little seedlings getting trampled. We would have been happy to pull every last horsetail in the worst horsetail corner if our labor budget could be increased to about twice as many hours as we have now (because the area is about twice as big as our flower gardens). That brings up another issue: How many hours a week can we devote at Grandma rates when those extra hours would take away from jobs with our full wages?
I was upset and in a state of shock and cried in the bathroom and then watered the garden with my tears. I do not want to leave it, but I will not compromise on this one and turn it into a tidy barkscape, if that is what was desired. It is supposed to be a “grandma garden”, a cottage garden, and I have heard nothing but love for it from the residents of this place. It is for them that we create it. It has the plants my mother loved, many from her garden. I have a strong clear vision for how I want this garden to be and it’s not something I will change, not after 6 years of trying on a shoestring to achieve it. Before we arrived this week, I had heard from someone that the garden was looking beautiful, and it had been praised and photographed a few days ago on the place’s Facebook page, so I did not show up to work expecting to be met with news that someone else had almost been hired to “weed” it.
My hope is that the regular Person in Charge returns on Monday as predicted.
Each of the four flower beds was dug out by us as volunteers from scrubby, weedy, dried out, uncared for grass.
Right now the garden is in flux between spring bulbs and late spring color. My own garden is good year round but then I spend lavishly on plants. At this job I spend maybe $30 to $50 a year on plants (in order to add some annuals) and another $20 to $30 on bulbs.
An hour and a half later (much of it spent blubbing to myself), we left, not knowing what was going to happen in the long run, feeling terrible (me), still reeling. There are several residents who especially like the flowers and two who talk with us every week. I would hate to leave them. Perhaps by next week, this tempest will just prove to have been tea-potty and all with be back to normal here.
Klipsan Beach Cottages
Here, we had only a short time for weeding and deadheading bulbs. We had watering to do at the south end of the Peninsula before dark.
By five o clock, we were back in Long Beach trying out the new faucets on the Sid Snyder approach planters. It is wonderful that Parks Manager Mike put in new connectors so we will be able to hose water these.
I now had high hope for a weekend almost off. We got to Ilwaco by six and I started watering the boatyard garden. It had held up very well for not having been watered yet at all this year. Allan fetched the water trailer and watered the Ilwaco planters and street trees.
Today, because each faucet where I needed a hose HAD a hose, and none of the hoses were attached to boats, I did not have to drag a hose around the obstacle course. As we worked, a cold wind came up, sometimes blowing hard enough to make me feel off balance. A cute white haired fisherman offered me the use of the hose by his boat (which I already HAD used) and said he liked the garden, and another fisherman with a boat in the yard said he loved the flowers.
Reunited after the boatyard and planter watering, Allan and I set out to water the gardens by the port pavilion and by the old Wade Gallery, now owned by Fort George Brewery. We had permission to use the Fort George water…but the building hand just changed hands and the water was turned off. Blargh! We filled up buckets from the Ilwaco pavilion faucet and bucket watered the Fort George garden. Hard work and we hope that faucet is back in play soon. The east end curbside garden still needed watering in this dry and windy weather, and I thought Time Enough Books and the Port office curbsides probably did, too. I also thought I needed to drown my sorrow from earlier in the day with one drink at Salt Pub. It closes at 9 on Fridays. It was decided that we would do the rest of the watering Saturday evening.
Salt PubThe nicest thing today, something that lifted my spirits, happened at Salt. Laura, a woman whose lawn Robert and I mowed lo! 20 years ago bought our drinks, saying she had seen Allan and I both out watering in the evening. She has toured our own garden once on the official tour and once stopping by, and I told her to tour it any time she likes.
I was heartened by Laura’s kindness and by another fisherman, at the bar, who told Allan how much he likes the boatyard garden. The work situation from mid day still weighed on my mind and reminded me of many gardens lost over the years (when people move away, when they die, when someone new takes over and wants “the plants to not touch” or doesn’t want us to water, when someone can no longer afford to have a gardener, and so on…). Two days almost off would be just the cure for my malaise.
1998 (age 74):
May 6: Gray skies cool breeze. Another busy day. I took the white hose in the shop and watered all the tomatoes and begonias [under lights]. It worked pretty good. Also watered in greenhouse and strawberries. I potted the new mums and 10 butterfly plants. I shuffled trays around in shop and put the 2 trays of begonia seeds from house to under lights. I took out three trays of tomato plants to plant into milk jugs but did not get them done—too busy. [She cut the tops of plastic milk jugs and grew tomatoes in them in her greenhouse, with drainage holes, I assume.]