The Relaxed Gardener

A few weeks ago as I sipped my morning coffee and walked with Lola into the back yard, a stampede of moths fluttered frantically up from the St. Augustine, crashing into my ankles and startling the dog. I knew they were the proud parents of hundreds of sod web worms and were probably munching on the roots of the grass beneath my feet that very moment. Their ancestors had destroyed most of our front lawn several years ago.

I sat down to finish my coffee and made a mental note of the problem to be solved. I then slipped into the pool for my morning swim and watched as the rising sun brushed the top of the magnolia. Small birds twittered in the branches and darted here and there. Mockingbirds sang and pecked at the ruby red seeds in the magnolia pods.

A couple of mornings later, while floating in the pool, I saw the same small birds nervously hopping from the tree branches, down to the spent agapanthus flower stalks, and into the St. Augustine. (Mental note made to prune barren flower stalks from agapanthus.) They pecked in the grass and chattered among themselves. Hmm, I thought, maybe I should buy a bird feeder.

The following week, our back lawn was full of young brown anoles whose numbers had grown exponentially during the summer. I watched from the pool as they leapt from garden rocks and caught tiny grey-green moths in midair. (Mental note made to pull dollar weed from between the garden rocks.)

Two weeks ago, from my ground-level view in the pool, I noticed several wasps flying low over the grass and pausing on the tips of the blades. These are the same wasps whose nest I cannot find and who dive bomb and kill the Monarch caterpillars on my milkweed. I should get out now and swat or spray them, I thought. I rolled onto my back, floated a while, and watched a solitary sheep-like cloud graze across the sky.

Yesterday morning, as Lola and I walked in the garden, a mere whisper of surviving moths fluttered lazily from the lawn. The birds remain in the branches of the magnolia, dragonflies perch on uncut agapanthus stalks, the anoles look hungry, and the wasps have resumed slaughtering Monarch caterpillars. The grass is green and healthy. Gardening is a tough job, but, as the saying goes, somebody’s got to do it. Now if I could just find a critter that likes to eat dollar weed…

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