Tag Archives: beginner

The Back “Yard,” or, Will the Real Hellhole Please Step Forward

Cement blocks. Iron bars. Peeling paint. Beating sun. An atmosphere of paralysis, fear, quiet despair. No, we’re not at Guantanamo. We’re in my back garden.

In some ways I expect this to be the harder of the two areas to confront. The front yard I must look at. Every. F-ing. Day. I must walk up those steps, past the paperwhites with their vapid expressions and senseless ubiquity. I must brush past the spiderplant tendrils, sons-of-tendrils, and grandsons-of-tendrils, all venturing ever-farther afield in a desperate search for a better garden to live in. I must trade glares with the Tree of Pain. I must wonder, again, when I’ll get around to recovering that overturned pot in the corner. I must, in short, confront my failures. Every day.

The back “yard,” (and I use that term generously) I can avoid for weeks at a time. And, in its current state, why shouldn’t I? “Oh,” people say, “you have outdoor space! How lucky for you!” Yes, I respond. I have outdoor space. So does a feed lot. And yet I doubt the inhabitants there are swooning for joy either.

Enough. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Bottom level. Believe me, it gets worse.

Here’s what you see when you first walk back. The potted plant in the foreground is some sort of drought-resistant grass. It was my first purchase for the garden. I don’t know what to do with it, so it is serving as sentry, there at the entrance, until permanent quarters may be found. Why do I suspect that desertion may be an issue?

Moving upwards. And wishing you weren't.

Behind that, more spider plants, other nameless grasses, a huge stone, and a retaining wall that begs to be covered. Finally, a sunburned aloe plant that takes up the lion’s share of the area. In this back garden it is the kingpin of the insurgency. I only wish I had a drone.

Stairs to left of terraces. Leading upward, unlike my mood.

I don’t even know what to say about this stairway. Maybe with a bunch of potted plants…?

Now the top level. Obviously my elderly predecessor ran out of money before she could get to it. Note the old container of Miracle Gro in the lower right corner? What it was used on is questionable. Possibly the cement. In any event, it’s a museum piece now.

The top level. Or, where all hope goes to die.

There’s a fig tree here, too. Not so bad, except when it’s dropping dying fruit all over the cement and attracting assorted vermin. Oh, and more of the Kafka-esque sprinkler system. Ouch!

Tomorrow’s post: The Kitchen Garden — or, Arsenic in the Carrots AGAIN?