Every so often, especially when the garden is on tour, someone suggests to me that I’m not the most realistic person in the world. I don’t know what it is that makes people think something like that.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been thinking about buying a couple of “landscape sized” plants of Yucca rostrata. It’s the fashionable yucca these days, and even though I do have two in the garden already, they grow awfully slowly, and a couple of gigantic ones might look like they had been here for decades. Make a dramatic statement, that sort of thing.
The big ones aren’t cheap, and there’s no room for any in the front yard, so they would have to go in back, where, surprisingly, it looks like there’s quite a bit of room, at least at this time of year.
Earlier this year I finally decided to go to Timberline and get a couple, but—this is how my mind works–I bought three pinyons instead. In my mind I thought these would look more “western”. And the idea of adding three more conifers that could potentially get huge and shade out everything was an additional selling point. Not to mention the fact that I had absolutely no idea where to put them.
The pinyons (Pinus edulis in this case) that you buy at nurseries are collected plants, and the roots are wrapped in burlap which is encased in this big heavy-duty wire cage. I couldn’t get my arms around the wire cage if I tried.
They were delivered. The guy who delivered them pushed a ramp out from the back of the truck, then pulled the pinyons out with a hay hook. When I told him I would just put them on the dolly and cart them over to where they were to be planted he looked at me as though I had just dropped down from Mars. Each one of the caged trees weighed about four hundred pounds.
Almost immediately after the truck left, I discovered that I could not lift something that weighed four hundred pounds. Huh. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that when I looked at the pinyons in the nursery; maybe they looked lighter there.
I pushed one of the pinyons over, attached a heavy rope to the wire cage, and dragged it to the planting hole I’d cleverly dug beforehand, while I was waiting for the delivery truck. I would have enlisted the dog’s help but he was sound asleep.
After I got the first one planted (it slid right into the hole and needed almost no straightening) I began to hear a sound like a helicopter in the distance. It was my pulse. I think my body was trying to tell me something. One time I took a prescription medication without reading the directions, and my pulse rate doubled, but this time it was even faster. Like a hummingbird’s.
I still had two pinyons to go, and that little voice inside my head, the voice that never shuts up, said “Plant them in the back yard, they’ll look nice there”, when the rational thing to do was leave the things on the driveway and put a Free Pinyons sign next to them. I listened to the little voice.
Hay hook, I thought to myself. Hay hook. Where in my mind’s eye had I seen one of those? Ah, the shed. My wife had decorated the shed with all sorts of things, and there was an old hay hook hanging by the window.
Dragging a four hundred pound pinyon by its wire cage from the driveway to the place in the back yard where, again, I’d cleverly dug holes just after listening to that little voice, dragging them a distance of about one hundred and seventy five feet, was as much fun as trying to drag a car across the street using a hay hook.
I told this story to my doctor, who said this was “good exercise”. If this is the definition of exercise, I’ll never exercise again. I might die.
The outcome of all this should be obvious, but in case it isn’t, the next day I went out to look at the pinyon planted way out by the fence, and it was backwards. The “good” side was facing the open space, instead of facing the garden.
The thought of digging it up and turning it around crossed my mind. For about two seconds. I’m too much of a realist for that.