You’re all wondering how my new meadow project worked out, but you’re too polite to bring it up. I can feel it.
It was about this time last year that I looked at a strip of land running along the alley side of our house and thought: Almost anything would look better than that. We didn’t garden it. Sometimes we stuck our car back there when our local Alberta Street suffered from excess popularity and we could’t find a place to park on the street. Also that’s where our dart board was set up. Weeds blew in over the years, and it didn’t get out of hand because we didn’t water it one little bit. Every now and then we’d annoy it with the weed whacker. Pretty much, it was ignorable, and that’s what we did with it.
But it was right up alongside our back patio, where we entertain anyone who pops by and likes beer, whether we’ve met them before or not. There are container plants, there’s furniture, there’s a bird bath and feeder. And maybe it would be nicer to have something other than a dried-up weed patch adjacent.
A meadow, say.
That’s when I remembered the ecolawn we see on our rambles. It’s got daisies and stuff and otherwise acts like a lawn. I could get the required seed mix and sow it, just as soon as I got rid of the resident weeds. The seed mix people said that part was easy. Just water, stretch plastic over the area, and let it bake in the sun for six weeks. Then, lo! Everything you don’t want is dead and It’s ready to replant!
Lo! Six weeks later I peeled off the plastic and our weed patch was utterly transformed! Into the tallest, greenest, most luxuriant weed patch on the block! And that’s really saying something, since the house on the corner went over to AirBnB.
So I scavenged enough locally-sourced cardboard to put an appliance store dumpster to shame, and I carefully peeled off any tape and pried out any staples and spread it all out on the revived and resplendent weedpatch, and pinned it down with boulders and tools and slow children, and covered that with boughten compost a foot high, and God smote it with rain and darkness for seven months, and by gum, by May that cardboard was but a memory and the weed patch had disappeared. I relocated the excess compost and raked everything smooth and hand-broadcast my pound of Ecolawn seed. We’re roughly 92 Murr-hours into this thing by now.
It drizzled helpfully. I stared at my soil, willing seeds to burst forth.
Then for no reason other than pure obstrepory, it shot up to about a hundred degrees for days. I watered. I watered. I watered.
Two weeks later random patches of soil sprouted hopeful fuzz like down on a duckling. It looked like grass. And there are three kinds of grass and two clovers in the mix. I called up the ecolawn lady and whined. Where are my flowers? She instructed me, with what I would call a tone, to be patient. So for the next few weeks I aggressively stared patience into the soil and finally something else popped up. No idea what.
I began to make a study of the plant nubbins, demanding answers from the cotyledons, but they were coy. Ultimately the patch resolved into one cubic crapload of sweet allysum, some yarrow, three or four daisies, and not nearly enough baby blue eyes. Some weeds have crept in also, and I can’t pull them without stomping everything else, so except on the edges they’re still there. Plantain. Crabgrass. Lambs-quarters. One sunflower. And a plague of tiny Trees of Heaven.
Even overwhelmed by sweet alyssum, though, it did look better than the weed patch. There was still one thing missing. One thing I’d been waiting for: the little bunnies with calico frocks and big eyelashes. I could see them so clearly in my mind’s eye, last summer. My new meadow simply would not be complete without the bunnies.
We never really had any bunnies, though. Not until this year. My bunny showed up, naked and hungry. My bunny chowed down on sweet alyssum and tromped a crop circle into my meadow. My bunny still has eighty cuteness points to his credit before he becomes a deceptively handsome rat in my mind. Men can get away with that too.