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Our first spring in our Baltimore house, and my gardening addiction has re-emerged. Every day when I get home, I head directly to the back door to get a quick fix by scrutinizing every single tree and flower and shrub in the backyard.  Then I head upstairs for another hit, reviewing all the potted herbs and veggies on the deck.  When I’m out and about, I constantly scan my surroundings, examining tree boxes and sidewalk planters for signs of addicts like myself.  My observations and commitments to others cannot be trusted, as I am merely parroting what I think will get me through the conversation most quickly, and free me to return to the privacy of my backyard.  My husband sees the dirt under my fingernails, and averts his eyes.  He talks of hard drives or mortgages or window renovations, then falls silent, realizing I’m not listening at all.

From the looks of it, I’d say that someone started landscaping this yard about ten years ago.  There’s a beautiful Japanese maple, a large azalea, and three hydrangeas of varying size. I imagine that the smaller two grew from cuttings from the first, which is crazy tall.  However, it appears that the yard had been neglected for a few years before we arrived.  When we first moved in, the ground and raised beds were overgrown with ivy and other vines.  The rose and the hydrangea had not been pruned in several seasons. The baskets hanging from the fence were empty.  And there was a bathtub near the back of the yard, doubling as a mosquito sanctuary. We figured out that the tub had once sat against the back wall, where it combined with the pipes and whatnot to form an artsy water feature. But the pipes had obviously burst at some point, the water had been cut off, and the tub was somehow dragged away from the wall.

I did only basic cleanup this past fall. I pruned the dead growth off the hydrangeas and the rose.  I pulled most of the ivy off the ground to reveal a brick path leading from front to back. We turned the tub onto its side to drain the water and displace the mosquitoes.

But this spring, the real work began.  I pulled out the rest of the ivy.  I bought a bunch of annuals to bring some color to the yard. I planted a few shade loving perennials: astilbe, wood foam, bleeding heart.  I turned the bathtub into a planter. I even put an impatiens in one of the old components of the water feature.

I could stop there, but I don’t think I really need to.  I mean, what harm could there be in planting a few more hostas and ferns, tacking some more pots to the fence, and tucking a few more flowers into the raised beds?  Then I’ll be done with the garden and go back to my other responsibilities.  I mean, except for taking care of the pots on the deck.  And keeping an eye on the back yard.  Any maybe refreshing a few of the annuals.  But then I’m totally done.  I promise.  You can trust me.

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