All the houses on the hill were new. There was a flurry of landscaping occurring. We were surrounded by picture perfect suburban gardens, with picture perfect suburban plants. I bought some flower seeds, dumped them all in a bag and scattered them in the flower beds. I had no idea of what would happen.
The soil was terrible. The only organic material in it was a few fast food wrappers and nests of incredibly aggressive and nasty ants. I bought a hundred bags of steer manure and asked the “gardener” to be sure to rototill it into the soil. He used ten bags and left the rest sitting. It didn’t do much.
I top dressed the rest of the yard with the remaining manure, and discovered that my youngest daughter was violently allergic to it. After a quick trip to the emergency hospital to deal with the worst asthma attack I had ever seen, manure, and cheap fertilizer, came to an end.
Everyone was planting Kentucky Blue Grass. Of course, we were in Southern California where it rained for two months a year, and not Kentucky with its rich soil and wet summers. The damn stuff needed to be watered every day and mowed twice a week. Of course, I was elected to do the mowing while my husband supervised. I wasn’t educated enough yet to “Just Say No." Our water bills skyrocketed and I was exhausted, but we had a perfect putting green.
My flowers came up in a riot of color, style and location. All the plants were mixed together in joyous diversity. But they were all annuals, which I hadn’t considered. By the end of summer, they were dead and I was staring once again at empty beds of mud.