MAKE OFFER!

photo by Dominic Martello

Today’s garden is near the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, probably the most photographed row of houses in the Milky Way. (The lowermost is for sale; 545 thousand will get you the garden unit; the main house is listed at 2.75 million, or “Make offer!”).  The place where I work is downhill and downscale, an 4-apartment building from the 1920’s, unassuming, but graceful in its way.

The garden at the back has felt under-loved from the start, like a long-closed room. The dog in the “garden unit” starts barking when I arrive but stops soon enough. I never see the tenants; I guess they’re at work or sitting in front of their computers.  Somebody set up a Weber, so the garden presumably gets used once in a while.  The owners live in Las Vegas, and hired me by email.

Passable flagstones passably placed, pandorrea vines, a couple of diffident mimosas in the back corners, cannas that the snails turn into crochet at the pace they grow; these were the middling features when I was hired, and still are.  I do the minimum.  I kill neither the snails nor the cannas.  What I don’t need: another thing to care about.  I might run out of inner resources, after all.

Last year I dug up 3 roses named ‘Sixteen Candles’ from a nearby garden and transplanted them here.  There they were in too much shade, worm eaten and mildewed.  This garden, a little sunnier, was a last resort before the green bin.

Instead of demise, the roses flourish.  The petal color is a wan yellow, but that’s a quibble.  Vigorous, shiny growth is a vivid refutation of these fog-shrouded days.  They are trying to make me love them and I refuse.  I fear I might be seduced into loving the garden, too.

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