I returned from a summer back at home in trepidation of seeing the state of the front yard garden. I had been sent a photo update partway through the summer – not being around to weed the yard, it had become a mass of grass, strangling spindly pea plants, and with the odd orange tomato standing out from the undifferentiated conglomerate of green.
When I had first arrived back, it was early in the morning, but the next day I was eager to start clearing out some of the grass choking the vegetables.
Looking at the yard, it appeared so much tamer than I expected – there wasn’t quite the height or bulk that I had been expecting. Then I realized that was because there was nothing. Apart from the expansive raspberry bushes, the yard was a flattened pad of dead, cut grass. A new pad of weeds, mostly clover, had begun to poke up like post-buzzcut fuzz in between the yellowed grass stems.
A chive plant waved jollily from the corner. The chive plant was spared.
Looking more closely, I found some more remnants of a (questionable) garden that once was. A handful of red cherry tomatoes and a couple green beefsteaks lolling on the ground in the shade of the raspberries… and a small, prickly field cucumber over in the other corner of the yard.
I collected and bagged the evidence.
“Dear roommate.” I said, as we sat down for dinner, “I was looking at – or rather – looking for my garden,”
“HAHAHA.” She said in the sort of despondent laugh just as telling as the explanation. “Yes. Um, there is a story there.”
It goes something like this: our landlord’s wife plants medicinal herbs in the yard. The roommate is warned not to pull up anything stick-like – and so given all the stick-like crabgrass taking over, leaves everything well alone. Until one day she comes back to a mowed lawn.
The garden was a unfortunate bystander caught in a confluence of factors. The sequence of events all started with me, when the garden was abandoned by its caretaker (i.e. me), then was watched over by a considerate roommate, and inevitably met its end at the blades of a landlord trying to keep his property relatively presentable and law-abiding instead of a crab-grass and dandelion cultivation centre.
I am pretty chuffed that at least I still have chives!