The Artistic One has a birthday in May. He'll be 78 this month, despite the odds and recent traveling blood clots. A handful of years back TAO didn't want to talk about birthdays. He didn't want a party, or gifts, or anyone to know. Then we had a few struggle-years, like the rest of America and it was hard to get up the energy or think much about extravagances, beyond a full tank of gas. Well, it's official, he's over it! It has been made known that this boy wants a party.
We're formulating a plan; to accommodate everyone's busy schedules and the last-minute nature of the affair; a two-phase event with a sit down garden lunch and a buffet of edibles for those who will randomly appear and disappear. We're planning a menu for carnivores and vegetarian tastes. Nothing high-maintenance; preferably things we can somewhat prepare the day before.
I'll get the pool heater turned on so that the Feral Grandchildren won't be so chilled that they'll come bother us. I've invited friends and foster-dog graduates and some clients we like as well, one of whom offered to give me his poolside furniture, which he is replacing. I hope he comes through before May 19th.
I made a major push to restore my back garden to some level of presentability. We have about 20 ft of flat area before the 60 degree downward slope, embellished with prickly, holly-like bushes that the landlord thinks were a great addition because they produce yellow flowers, for about five minutes every year. With sprinklers that were out of action due to a major underground water leak, for most of last summer and into fall, the lawn was crispy and even the gophers gave up on us.
This Spring I relaunched my efforts and put in sweet-peas and Dahlias and reseeded the grass; which has grown in some luxurious patches and not at all in others; still it's better than it was and the cat thinks the dead patches, covered with planting mix, are perfect for her plein-air bathroom.
This whole "Gotta have a Party!" story started about three weeks ago. I went into full-bore Mad Gardener mode and hauled car loads of bedding plants from the nursery. I can't plant anything much bigger than a 4" pot. The hillside doesn't have too many gophers for the simple reason that they'd need dynamite to tunnel through the rocks and even our friendly NRA hasn't started arming rodents with blasting caps and such.
I lifted and carried and dragged pots and flats of plants and piled bags of chicken compost on the dolly, to trundle down the bumpy side path; leaning back as a counter-weight to stop from careening downhill and off the edge of the four foot vertical retaining wall, drop-off at the bottom, that would land me on the strategic cement rim, rather than into the less deadly water. (I have been in the pool before; in-advertantly; in the winter; fully dressed, including boots and gardening gloves, but that's a story for another day).
It would almost have been a pleasure to take a dip this time. We've had one record-breakingly hot weekend after another and I'm quite surprised that anything has flourished, as the soil contains a high level of salt from the sweat dripping off my forehead.
Just as I arrived at a level of satisfaction and could believe in the promise of a respectable show of flowers by B-Day, my landlord, who never fixes anything, decided that trimming the overgrown trees would save him money on pool filter and pump repairs. Of course most of what I'd planted was right beneath the offending trees, and the rest was a selection of fuschias, and other shade plants, appropriate to the patio which last saw full sun about five years ago.
I've just skipped a week since my last paragraph. Every spare minute has gone to hand watering the patchy grass and few remaining flowers. There was trampling by tree-trimmer boots, crushing by branches, dragging, tearing and uprooting as part of the cleanup and, "Surprise! Surprise!" broken watering system, leading into another very warm spell.
The fuchsias and begonias that I'd placed in large terra cotta pots, on the previously shaded patio, wilted visibly, the minute they felt the blistering California sun, as it rounded the naked trunk and bore through the skeleton branches of the previously impervious blockade of Blue Spruce. The cannas that have already grown quite tall for May have been dragged over to bridge the gap and offer some shade to the roots of the sweet pea trellis, beneath the stunted remains of the crabapple tree. I've thrown a few more bedding plants into the beds around the edge of the lawn but they won't reach maturity between now and Sunday, not even if there's an App for that.
It's curiously liberating to have reached the decision to quit fighting the impossible fight (in the garden). Tomorrow is B-Day minus two. Planning food, drinks, seating and cutlery for a multinational, multicultural, gang of 30-40 people is the task to be tackled.
We'll begin the morning by writing lists....
3 hours ago