Down in the yard, garden trenches, it gets dirty and awkward

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

[9/13/2004]The little boy on the bike in my neighborhood asked the question nobody else dared.

“What you doing to your yard?”

He asked this back on a hot Saturday in June as he rode his bike up and down the street in front of my yard. I spent most of the day digging a trench at the top of my hill. It wasn’t easy work.

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For some reason, I find myself defensive answering a 9-year-old’s questions, and I’m not sure what I answered.

What I didn’t say was, “I’m trying to realize my vision.”

When I was considering buying this house, I made my parents come with me to look. The house sits on a hill that drops at least five feet at almost a right angle.

“How would you mow it?” I asked my dad.

Having lived in Vicksburg when he was a little boy, he said with authority, “They use ropes.”

Not much of a mower even without the need for ropes, I didn’t know what he meant then, and I still can’t totally grasp it. I did what I thought was best I asked around, and I hired Johnny Baylot to cut it.

That’s working out fine for me but I started itching to do something to the yard. My vision was to eliminate the grass by putting in vines and ground cover. Hence the trenches.

It’s not pretty but I refuse to be ashamed. I told Johnny what I wanted to do, and asked him what would grow fast and hold the hill.

“You know what’s best? Grass,” he said. He conceded that ivy’s not so good but the jasmine that grows in my back yard might work.

I transplanted some of the jasmine, ivy and cannas from the back yard, put in some wandering jew from my friend’s yard and rosemary. The rosemary and the jasmine didn’t make it.

Two weeks ago I made a trip to Home Depot and spent $16 on Asiatic jasmine plants. I went straight home and put them in the trenches. The same little boy rode by, coolly assessing my work in his new role as yard cop.

“You planting flowers?”

“No, not flowers. Just green vines.”

“Oh,” he said, obviously losing interest, and riding on.

I didn’t blame him, but I am committed now to the trenches I’ve dug. They’re not pretty, but I still have a vision.

Sonya Kimbrell is features editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail her at