Georgia Garden Girl

Garden Great in Zone 8!

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

My Great Aunt Ada had a marvelous yard man for years and years.  He did a wonderful job in her yard and kept everything looking beautiful.  One day, Aunt Ada asked the yard man to fertilize some roses.  The yard man got mixed up about which bag contained the fertilizer, and he accidentally selected a bag of Quickcrete.  Aunt Ada felt that the mix-up was her fault, and she didn’t want the poor yard man to feel bad about killing the roses.  So, legend has it that she did what any polite Southern lady would do: she hired another yard man to dig up the old roses and put in new ones.

I have tried to have the patience and grace of Aunt Ada with my most recent yard man and his crew.  I know that they need a job, and I am terrible with confrontation.  That is how I ended up with a yard man in the first place.  I did not want a yard man.  I actually like cutting the grass, and I find it satisfying to pull weeds.  But a while back, I broke my lawnmower and could not get it fixed before it was my turn to host Junior League Book Club.  It is obviously unacceptable to host any Junior League function with a jungle-like yard, and I needed a one-time mow and blow to get me out of this jam.  A sweet friend recommended her yard man, so I asked for his help.  One time.  But somehow, it turned into a relationship.  And I wasn’t sure how to end it.

The relationship got off to a rocky start when the crew weed-whacked all my groundcover sedums and a prostrate yew, destroying a perfectly good soaker hose in the process.  But I hate confrontation, and they needed a job, so I overlooked these issues.  I tried to counsel the yard man every time his crew cut the grass—they always cut it too short and usually scalped it in several places.  I tried to be patient when the crew blew leaves (and sometimes trash) into my vegetable garden, completely burying a bed of herbs nearly every time.  And I reasoned that they were just trying to help in my flower beds, so I shouldn’t be too upset that several of my perennials looked like weeds to the crew and were therefore eradicated.

But then they murdered Daphne.  My sweet, precious winter Daphne.  She was one of the first harbingers of spring—the one who always told me, “don’t worry, winter is almost over.”  She bloomed her little heart out and perfumed the air with the sweetest scent.  She was beautiful, and I loved her.  But now, Daphne is dead—the tragic victim of an overzealous weed-whacker, inexplicably cut down while she was in full bloom.  My heart is bruised, and my trust is breached.

I know I’m being a bit dramatic here, but Daphne was one of my favorite plants.  And I realize that the winter Daphne plant is replaceable.  But the trust is not so easily fixed.  I suppose that if I had years and years of good rapport with my yard man, then I could overlook this breach like Aunt Ada overlooked the Quickcrete incident.  But if I’m going to be honest, I was disappointed with the yard man from the beginning, and things only got worse every time he ignored my instructions.  I needed to fire him, and the Daphne murder gave me the perfect out.

It was harder than I thought it would be, but I finally did break up with my yard man.  It took six text messages, two phone calls, and one letter.  He groveled.  I listed his past mistakes.  He apologized.  I explained that we are just not a good fit.  He made impassioned pleas.  I almost caved.  But I stood my ground, and I know it will be better for both of us in the long run.

My lesson is learned.  Know thy yard man.  Do not trust him to work in your yard unsupervised until he proves that he can tell a perennial from a weed and knows the proper height to cut your grass.  And do not promise him a steady gig until he can prove that he is reliable, knowledgeable, and able to follow instructions.  And when the relationship goes south, do not be afraid to break up with him.  Bless his heart.

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