After a lifetime of being the only ornamental gardener in this family, buying, planting, weeding, pruning, dividing, watering, I have been forced to scream “Uncle!” at the top of my lungs.  I have a 2-week wedding deadline to get these gardens in top form. I thought I could do it. Following a badly timed three-week trip with my sisters, I have toiled for one week of long days, edging and weeding, watering and clipping but I’m letting other things on the list slide.  I finally broke down and hired my first ever yard help.

Two days ago, Jerry appeared early one morning for an interview. Was I nervous about this? Yes, very. I wasn’t about to release him into my precious borders armed with clippers, rakes, hoes without my proper supervision and instruction. Together we toured the yard, me talking way too much and Jerry nodding and asking way too little, I thought.

Afterwards he told me he needed some things. I raised the pencil and paper I was carrying.

“I’ll need a wheelbarrow and two truckloads of mulch,” he said.

I lowered my pencil and paper and just stared at him.

He climbed into his truck and was gone. Several days later, Jerry appeared for his first day of work armed with his favorite tools, a hatchet-like instrument and a pair of long-handled clippers. Before I could get out the door, he had rounded the house and was crawling beneath the cotoneaster hedge that surrounds our pond. He had already dug up the errant black walnut tree that I cut at the base each year, taken out the honeysuckle vine that plagues me annually and was not afraid to eradicate a little poison ivy he found trailing across the ground. As I approached, he was holding up a long branch of the cotoneaster shrub.

“This needs trimmed,” he advised.

“I never cut that,” I replied emphatically. I was extremely territorial and possessive but Jerry stood his ground.

“I can see you’ve never trimmed it. That’s a mistake.”

He walked slowly around the bed holding up branch after branch. “This needs cut. This, too. If you cut here, this hole will fill in next year.”

By this time he finished, my heart was racing and my mouth was dry but I knew I’d lost the first battle. “Well, cut a little. Remember… I have an event here in a couple of weeks.”

My gosh, the cotoneaster looks fabulous! And the rest of the yard is shaping up. His edging tool, the hatchet, is fabulous, too. I’ve totally given my gardens over to Jerry.  He knows more than I do and he’s smart enough to find me and ask about seedling if he’s not sure if they’re weeds or not.

I’m thinking Jerry might become permanent around here BUT if we have a big standoff, I may have to tell him about the really, really big Northern Water snake that lived beneath the cotoneaster last summer….

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

8 thoughts on “Uncle!

    • Our labs walk on the deck next to the pond, stop and stare and sniff a small area. They can’t see what’s beneath the deck but their ears are up and one dog jumps away. I do think a rat snake is beneath the deck, a favorite snake habitat… eating the baby toads that are everywhere right now.


  1. I know what a big step it must have been to bring someone else to work in your garden. I am glad it is working out. Have the rains been finding you? We have had two nights of rain and my garden is loving it!


    • You are lucky! Only one rain has found Gloucester. It brought a nice 3/4″ of water. We can see the storms moving north and south of us. Maddening! I’m dragging miles of hose to keep a just a little green in the yard.


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