Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG July 2020

Happy (almost) 4th of July! Do you have any plans? I don't know if our local fireworks are happening or not. I'm guessing not. Our biggest plan: to watch Hamilton on Disney+. 

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this here shindig along with his rockin' band of cohosts: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month's optional question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

A good question, but I got nothing.

So, I will substitute my own question: Is there anything more fun than a pallet of flat rock?

Let me explain. Like the past two summers, I've dropped writing like a hot potato in order to exhaust myself physically on outdoor projects. This spring my husband dismantled the kids' old swing set in the backyard.

Much of the wood and plastic pieces were chewed to bits by squirrels. That and its advanced age made me realize it was not something anyone else would want in their yard, even if they were inclined to transfer the thing and not concerned about catching Covid from used items. Time to recycle, reuse, and re-imagine.

My husband got his tools shined up and built some stunning flower boxes.

My project is something else: transforming the now-empty space of weeds and decaying mulch into something awesome.

Step One: Dig up the old garden cloth underneath. Do not use this junk. Ever. It keeps weeds down for a year or two and then they'll grow right through it in an impenetrable weave any shovel or trowel will simply bounce off of. It's from the devil. 

Step Two: Make a big dirt pile. Any self-respecting ornamental landscape garden should not be flat. (My apologies to Kansas. (However, trivia fun-fact: Florida is the flattest of all the US states.))

Step Three: Wrestle, hog-tie, dig deep ditches, and get a hernia bringing in some weathered limestone boulders--all 1262 pounds of the five of them. 

Step Four: Arrange a pallet of flat stone to suggest waterfalls, natural bridges, and what-not. Keep rearranging them until your fingernails turn black and you can't feel your forearms. Realize your super-cool stream bed is tilted at least 15 degrees in the wrong direction. Undo two days work trying to fix. Bring in level to avoid this mistake again. Consider taking up arm-wrestling with all your new-found strength. 

Pictures? Well, not yet. It's still a Gehenna of dry dirt, rock, and three new wilting rhododendron plants that are getting way, way too much sun. But here are my dual inspirations: 

Un lugar que invita a volar. — at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Image: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park by Carlos Adampol Galindo

Watkins Glen

Image: Watkins Glen Gorge by h_wang_02

In a real sense, creating this landscape, even in miniature, is a lot like writing a novel. It's a lot harder than it looks, takes forever, is exhausting, needs a crap-ton of editing, and will probably not live up to my expectations. But there is a silver lining: no marketing needed.


Any projects for you this summer? 


  1. That sounds like some heavy work all right.
    We use industrial strength weed-suppressing membrane, the stuff that costs over forty bucks a roll. Grass gets through sometimes, but so far so good.
    Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

  2. This is a perfect post for July 2020. Very creative. Very interesting. Very green! Love those planter boxes and hearing about all that labor!

  3. Love your plans for your garden. Truly inspiring! I hope to see photos, when you're done.

  4. I like how you describe your summer project. This is a year of a lot of projects, I expect! Stay well.

  5. I love it. We've been tackling multiple projects outside, including a full patio. I love the boxes your husband made. Those are adorable.

  6. Just a little ambitious aren't we. Get that garden together and the tourist will come. But seriously, I'm impressed with your ambition. I have a yard of a flower grouping here, there. I live in the country where my best plants and groupings are au naturelle.

    I hope your summer is fun and your family well.

  7. Thanks for the laugh, Tamara. It was much needed. I can't wait to see the finished project. Sounds You already know what I'm doing this summer, but sadly, it does require marketing. (This is part of it; look at me market!)

  8. I love the flower boxes. Will your husband make some for me too? And I've been tackling some outside projects too. Good luck with yours.

  9. The flower boxes look amazing!! Great analogy between writing a book and working your tale off.

  10. I love the planters! Waste not, want not!

    The only benefit to landscaping over novel writing is that you burn calories. I fear all my novel writing gets me nothing but a bigger bottom and clogged arteries.

  11. This post made me smile at so many points. I am not necessarily sold on the appeal of a pallet of rock - but you've definitely piqued my interest. And reminded me I should probably do some yardwork. Hope it all goes well. It sounds like it will be brilliant.
    Anne from

  12. You have really taken on a project. It's going to be amazing when it's finished. Love the flower boxes.

  13. Whooboy! Sounds like quite the project. I've lost all time for outdoor work, and now have weeds growing in my front yard that I scowl at ever time I get home from work. I hope your outdoor project is coming along well!


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