Divide and Conquer

The day promised to be warm. Still May, temperatures crept up only to plummet again without warning. Not unusual for Idaho, but much different than those very predictable four seasons I remember as a child. One thing certainly has not changed. The tenacity of grass invading the flower borders. “Be sure every white root is pulled out of the ground,” Mother instructed me long ago. “It will grow new grass if left there.” I hear her voice every time I go out to pull new weeds. They reproduce faster than rabbits; I wish I could chase them away as quickly!

It was cool yet this morning, in the mid-fifties. There were a few hours til the sun would invade my shaded place and heat me as well as the air. Grateful for that presumed “gleaning gene,” the one that gives the ability to work bent in half at the waist, I began, nearly standing on my head to pull the offending blades. Encircling the ornamental cherry tree in our yard, a lovely grouping of violas have overwintered two seasons and are thriving. Nice large clumps still beg for more plants to join their colorful parade, violas and pansies lifelong favorites for both my husband and me. And as I dug and hacked away at the clay soil, a bit of weedy inspiration popped into my mind: divide and conquer. Such a simple and time worn concept, yet interesting to see played out in the garden.

It was a battle. Invading grass versus violas. Five of the six clumps of violas were full and standing strong. The sixth, while healthy and robust, had obviously been fighting a battle against invading grasses into it’s core. No wonder it was a smaller clump and misshapen. The grasses had snuck their tendrils into the whole of the clump and set up camp. It was a chore rooting the offenders out without harming the viola. A delicate surgical procedure of divide and conquer, a counterattack to the kind the grasses had launched.

It was not long after standing upside down performing this act of mercy that my back demanded a different approach. Out came the collapsible garden stool, a green one, like the kind you see old folks using. One position cushions the legs for kneeling; flipped over it becomes a handy stool. With relief, and zero embarrassment, I sat on the stool and worked on. My disclaimer as the stool wobbled under me: “If this stool bucks me off, it’s because the ground is uneven” . . . I wondered then who or what was conquering whom in this “divide and conquer” scenario! Still in the end, about two hours later, I had won! I could still stand up and walk, the viola had been freed, and the flower bed looked grand!

Slowly I am becoming smarter. After the next visit to the market a squirt bottle, a jug of vinegar, liquid Dawn dish soap, and salt stand at the ready for my DIY weed/grass killer. I found the recipe online, my secret weapon to keep winning this game! My back already is thanking me!

2 thoughts on “Divide and Conquer

  1. you amaze me my dear Sherry, I knew you could write but I think this blogging thing is fantastic! What a gift. Love ya, Sharon B


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