Latest Landscape Improvement

Remind me to take more "before" pictures. Every time I post an "after" photo with no "before," I feel like a total doof. I'm all proud and excited: "See what we did? Isn't it totally better than it used to be?" I ask. The response is invariably either "Uhhh... yeaaaah?" (note the pitch-raised vocal-question-mark inflection at the end) or "I guess, if you say so..." or "Who are you and why are you showing me pictures of a freshly caulked windowpane?"

It is in this spirit that I offer up the latest "after" photo in a continuing series of landscape improvement projects. Previously, this tree had one lonely hosta growing by its base. On Friday, I had the day off so I decided to give it some friends. And some rocks. And some cocoa shell mulch.

The hosta friends were abandoned on our doorstep in a box a few days ago. I know, I know, in some parts of the world opening unmarked boxes left on your doorstep is just asking for trouble. But after determining that there weren't any newborn kittens or explosives inside (we did this by kicking the box and not having it mew or explode), we figured it was safe to accept the contents.

As it turns out, the hostas were a gift from honorary neighbor Mary ("honorary" because she doesn't technically live on our block, but her beau does). A few weeks ago I caught her outside Malcolm's house, planting hostas on the sly. She thought the weeds didn't look too inviting, so she dug up some hostas from her mom's yard and transplanted them over at Malcolm's.

I am guessing her mom's hostas were in need of thinning, not that Mary was playing some elaborate disappearing perennial-themed practical joke on her. While that would certainly win some originality points, it is so labor intensive (and seasonal) that I don't see it catching on like the styrofoam-filled cubicle prank people like to play on vacationing coworkers. Now *that* one is fun all year 'round.

But back to our narrative.

Because I am a sucker for free landscaping materials (viz., multiple expeditions to harvest rocks), I offered to give a good home to any other of Mary's mom's hostas that might be looking to relocate. I was fully prepared to offer to go dig them up myself (I've got a shovel and I'm not afraid to use it). But Mary said, "No problem -- next time I'm out at my mom's, I'll bring you some!"

So, thanks to our wonderful honorary neighbor, I was able to transform this tree with its one lonely hosta into a fairly well-appointed little landscape oasis. Again, I'm sorry there's no "before" photo. But picture the "before" tree as the futon you had in college (you know which one I mean -- the one your roommate denies "spilling" all that Jaegermeister on to this day [yes, true, when you flip the cushion you'd never know the difference, but give it up already!]), whereas the "after" tree is more like that first decent couch you bought after you finally started making five figures. Sure, there are probably better, posher trees in the neighborhood, but this one is *our* little landscape improvement project, and I like it! Tomorrow night we will gather 'round and pour out a shot of Jaegermeister in honor of the old bare tree that is no more. I hear cocoa shell mulch does wonders retaining alcohol.

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