Gardeners plan, municipal infrastructure laughs

This, too, will pass. But for now, I deliberately avoid looking out our front windows or even walking past the front of the house. It is a mess.

The dysfunction that comes to so many who rely on municipal water and sewer systems, often with old infrastructure and a destructive network of tree roots,  has come to us. I know many people who have had their front yards dug up for this reason. 

But I had no idea how deep the backhoe would be going or the abyss it would create. Still, it only took a few days, the new pipe is in and the displaced earth has been piled, more or less,  back into the hole. It’s still a mess, but at least the noise and disruption has ended.

Is it also an opportunity? While I really hope this didn’t cause irreparable harm to the cherry tree that’s always been there – delightful deep-pink doubles – I suppose I wouldn’t mind reworking the perennial array. 

There are two alleviating factors. One, it happened this early in the season. There are at least 10 weeks for all this to settle down before I have to start working on the bed. Two, the disruption will make it much easier to plant. Normally I have to hammer away at the root-filled soil to even get a few bulbs in. I never would have done this, but it’s somewhat like old-school double digging.  Somewhat? As it is, I have been top dressing for years, so what’s there now shouldn’t be too bad to work with.

I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend and while visiting the Mattress Factory (a contemporary art center), we noticed an adjacent empty lot that had been landscaped after a fashion. A very strange fashion. It reminded me of both my front yard and an historic garden that’s now too dangerous to visit – Crowninshields, which is filled with spooky tunnels. 

At Mattress Factory, this lot had two deep stone-lined excavations in the ground, one with a set of steep stairs leading down. There were also above-ground stone constructions all around. You could see that in spring and summer it all would have been surrounded by plants and might be more attractive – though still a liability nightmare. 

I jokingly suggested that I should leave the excavation in my front garden as is and do something similar. Of course, the city of Buffalo would shut that down right quick.

It might not take that much imagination, but a newly blank canvas does offer opportunities.

It will be fine. It may even be fun. And it might look like a garden again.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.