Keeping Up With the Cabrals

Guest post by Zesty

I’ve decided June 1 is New Year’s Day at least when it comes to gardening. It certainly doesn’t make much sense to go with January 1. In June I can get outside, take some action and not indulge in any whimsy.

For whimsy and wishful thinking have ruled the day for far too long. It would be fair to say that since moving to my home almost three years ago, my garden has been an unmitigated, or perhaps more accurately, an ‘untended’ disaster. Granted there have been a fair share challenges the last couple of years, the kind of challenges that don’t so much knock weeding off the radar as put it into a new hemisphere altogether.

But as with most things, there is ultimately never a ‘good time’ or a ‘right time’ or ‘time’ period. There is simply the need to get things done and it’s a need that must be met or it all goes to hell in a Kate Spade basket.

If I may refer to a moment of philosophical brilliance as spoken by Edward Griffin: ‘There’s a time to fall apart and a time ta get funky. THIS is one of those funky times.’

So this weekend, it gets funky. I?m going to get out there and get the great purge done.

I made a good start two weeks ago. I purchased a Godsend of a gardening tool from Lee Valley. It’s called a dandelion digger and is the best $34.50 I have ever spent. I got done in one hour what would have taken me a half-day of hand picking on bended knee. After filling a compost bag with dandelions and their assorted compatriots, I was feeling satisfied. My paternal grandfather, who was genetically generous in giving me a talent for all things green, would be proud I thought.

The next day I came home from work and saw on my lawn an invasion of fresh yellow dandelion blooms. I thought what my grandfather would have thought.


I’ve since discovered that dandelions are the Hulk Hogan of the garden. They never really go away.

But I digress.

The dandelions made me feel so defeated. All that work and for what? It seemed that my desire to catch up with my Portuguese neighbours would never be fulfilled. In my neighbourhood it’s not keeping up with the Jones. It’s keeping up with the Fernandes and the Cabrals. My friend Joe, who is Portuguese once told me “For some men, it’s the trophy wife or the car. For some it’s the money. But for a Portuguese man? It’s his house.”

He wasn’t kidding. Being a less than diligent gardener in a predominantly Portuguese neighbourhood is a little slice of self-esteem hell. I’m willing to concede that part of my discomfort with the state of my garden is not just a matter of personal pride, it’s plain old peer pressure. Every day I walk past perfectly manicured grass so dense and richly green, you could carpet a living room with it. Top-heavy hydrangeas and bleeding hearts virtually dripping with blooms abound. I was lucky to get two buds on my Prince rose last year. There’s this awful feeling that that when folks are out on their porches in the summer, they’re looking at our place saying “Oh yeah. Nice people, but (insert multitude of gardening sins here.)”

So after a lost long weekend in soggy Huntsville where my spouse and I got pelted with rain, slept in an uncomfortable bed, saw the odd moose and canoed for all of ten minutes I now have this weekend to catch up.

I?m not being overly ambitious. I just want to finish clearing out the weeds, prune back the roses and ground pines and lay some mulch. The next week I?m going to plant some seeds and see what happens.

Hey, ya gotta start somewhere.


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One thought on “Keeping Up With the Cabrals

  1. Ah, that takes me back to the good old days when I was the very young mom of two wee sons living in the BC’s fertile Kootenay valley. We were fairly proud of our Peace rose, the fool-proof petunia boxes and the little “trainer” garden boxes in which my sons grew carrots, radishes and lettuce.

    Proud, that is, until our lovely neighbour, a widowed elderly Portugese man, began his habit of leaving us ice cream buckets of produce on the side stoop every morning. That man got more use out of a long narrow city lot than many of us would get on an acreage, including eggs from the chickens we all pretended not to know about. Cherries, peaches, zucchini, apples, pears, tomatoes (while my one plant got all three tomatoe blights!), a pumkin in the fall. . . I tried to reciprocate by returning some of the produce in new forms — chocolate zucchini cake, apple muffins, cherry pie, but to be honest on a good day I was happy to keep the kids from mushing the juicy fruit all over their faces before it (and they) was washed.

    Now I stick to what I know and love — flowers, though I wish I’d taken the opportunity to learn some of his secrets.

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