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How does my garden grow?

All I wanted was some tall flowers under the kitchen window. A simple task, I thought. I could just dig up the agapanthus in the front yard and transplant it to the back.

But first I had to make a place for it, which meant removing a dozen bricks or so. After prying them up, I found - not dirt, but roots. The strong fingers of a magnolia tree went on forever. I pulled and tugged but to no avail. Have you ever tried chopping tree roots with a trowel? A shovel was what I needed.

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Where was the shovel?

Last seen, it was in the back of my husband's van, left there after we'd done some gardening at our son's house.

A phone call to my husband's office revealed he wasn't there, but his secretary took the message: "Where is the shovel?"

While waiting for the return call, I decided to weed the rest of the flower patch.

Finally, the phone call came. "Look in the garage, in the corner on the south wall," he said.

I thought I had done a thorough search of the garage, but there it was, hung up on the rafters. Hurrah! I could continue to dig.

Now I chopped, tugged, and pulled at the magnolia roots. After digging deep holes and filling them with water, I went back to the front yard. The blue flowers on the agapanthus stood straight and tall. Bees happily buzzed in and out of the blooms.

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Agapanthus bulbs are held tightly together by a net of roots, so it is not possible to dig up just one plant at a time. It ends up being a clump of about 25 bulbs knotted together. Extracting this large tooth from the gums of the earth takes a great deal of strength and perseverance on the digger's part.

When I was done, a hole bigger than a bread box was left where the massive root system had been. That meant I had to replace the agapanthus I had removed with something. I'd worry about that later.

At the moment, I had another worry. What to do with 25 bulbs when there was only room for five under the kitchen window? There was only one thing to do: Find room for them elsewhere.

Some would look lovely by the fence, I decided, but that meant cleaning out the overgrown geraniums and a fast-growing chrysanthemum too nice to throw away. Now I had to pot the clippings and find spots in the garden for the rest.

That space all cleaned out, I put in five bulbs and found room here and there for a couple more. I managed to get six bulbs in under the kitchen window and my neighbors gratefully took the rest.

But what about the hole in the front yard?

I had to make a trip to the nursery for three dozen petunias to fill the vacancy. I refused to think how much easier it would've been to have bought petunias in the first place to plant under the kitchen window. That was neither here nor there. Hours later, my husband came home to a very dirty wife but a beautiful yard.

"I thought you were only planting a few flowers under the kitchen window," he said.

"I did," I told him. "Want to see?"


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