Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hibiscus Rescue

Well, after the unfortunate “NeighborsGet A Monster-Sized Dog” issue, we're biting the bullet and having a new fence installed.

And if you think this process has occurred without drama and brouhaha then you've never read this blog before.

It all started with the hibiscus. This beautiful, big hibiscus that is growing through the old chain link fence and dwarfing the plants around it. It flowers for months and months every summer and is absolutely gorgeous.

And kind of huge.

 “We can't really build around that.” The fence guys said. "And if you leave it there, it could warp the new fence."

“We'll have to rip it out," Opie said.

And I stared at him in abject horror. "We are not MURDERING that hibiscus!"

"I don't think it's really murder when it's a plant," he said.

But I wasn’t about to listen to that kind of nonsense. So I flat out refused to participate in his horrifying bushicide plot and began looking up ways to transplant it to the front yard.

"This is going to be a disaster," Opie predicted.

"Not for YOU," I assured him. "I'll take care of everything."

Everything except pruning the bush down to 1/3 of its original size (per Internet instructions) and cleaning up the subsequent debris.  He did that…convinced, I suspect, that I wouldn’t completely clean up the hibiscus detritus (even though I love the word detritus) and instead scatter it around the yard in hopes the lawn guy would be able to mulch it with the mower.

After that, though, the bush’s fate was in my hands. And one morning last week, after Opie left for work, I went out to save the poor hibiscus.

“Easy-peasy,” I told the dogs. “Just dig around the bush in a circle, loosen the roots, and bam! Hibiscus saved!”

2 hours later, it was pretty clear the root-loosening wasn’t really working for us.

“Never fear,” I told the dogs.  “We just need to add a little water to the soil, saturate the roots so they slide right out of the ground.”

Which led to 3 more hours of digging in soggy mud.

Though, to be fair, part of that time frame was based on the fact that this ridiculous animal, the Princess Snowflake Sassypants:

Kept scampering through the mud in a very un-Princess like fashion.

Then I got distracted by this caterpillar that had clearly been soaked by my soil water shenanigans and needed to be rescued and then stared at until I was sure it hadn’t been an unintended casualty of Operation Hibiscus Rescue.

(It is interesting to note that I did not feel the same concern for the ENORMOUS centipede that came scurrying out of the hibiscus’ roots when the water first splashed down. Clearly, I have some complicated bug prejudices.)

In any case, I worked on that hibiscus for a shocking amount of time and it showed no signs of loosening by the time I had to get ready for work.

Which is when I came up with my brilliant plan:

Completely flood the roots and hibiscus hole, let it all soak in while I worked my shift online, then come back out and pop it out like a cork from champagne.

And still I think this might have actually worked…except it started to rain.

And when I say “rain” I don’t mean a gentle shower with rainbows peeking through. I mean the kind of torrential downpour that makes you start looking for the proper materials to build an ark.

The hole flooded, the area around the hole flooded, the fence-line flooded…

“This doesn’t look good.” I told the dogs. And they concurred but had no helpful suggestions other than to hint that a few treats and belly-rubs would make everyone feel better.

Seriously, these dogs are very self-involved.

Anyway, I don’t have any pictures of that because I couldn’t take my awesome new camera out in the rain.

I had no trouble taking myself out in the rain, though, because after I finally finished my online shift, I ran out into the storm, and started digging and wading through calf-deep mud, pulling that hibiscus as hard as I could.

To no avail.

It was around this point that I lost whatever tiny grip I had on my sanity and began screaming at the hibiscus in frustration.

"I am the only thing standing between you and CERTAIN DEATH!" I shouted at it. "Don't you understand that? You need to move or DIE."

I'm a little disturbed to report that none of the neighbors came out to investigate the screaming and death threats. Which means they are either completely callous and uncaring OR they have become completely inured to this type of behavior after nearly 4 years of living next to me.

Honestly, I don't know which is worse.

Anyway, there I was in the backyard in a torrential downpour, cursing the hibiscus, threatening the hibiscus, and trying to shake the hibiscus free when Opie got home from work.

"What did you do?" He demanded, looking at the swampland that had once been our backyard.


And he went inside.

Which makes him sound like the biggest jerk in the world until you realize that he was just going in to change out of of his work clothes. He was back in a few minutes, in old clothes and shoes, with a shovel of his own.

And a mere hour and a half later, we got the damn bush out of its earthen prison!

Which left an unfortunate puddle large enough to drown a dog.

“I’ll drag the hibiscus around front,” Opie said.  “And then you can dig a new hole and plant it in the morning.”

“I have to plant it tonight,” I said. “All the guides said you have to get it re-planted as soon as possible or it won’t survive.  And,” I finished before he could even ask “I couldn’t dig the hole before-hand because I didn’t know how big the rootball was going to be and what size hole I would need.”

Opie stared at me for a really long time (especially considering we were standing outside in the rain) then began dragging the bush and muttering under his breath…muttering, I’m pretty sure, sweet nothings about how I am the light of his life.

“Go on inside!” I shouted after him. “I’ll dig the new hole!  I’LL TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING!”

But he wasn’t falling for THAT again. He dug the hole, we pushed the hibiscus in, and bam! Hibiscus saved!

These are the new buds popping up.

So, in summary, the bush is planted and showing signs of re-blooming, none of our clothes had to be thrown away but did have to be removed on the porch, it took me three more hours the next day to drain the stupid hole and re-fill it with dirt.

But it was worth it to save Opie from the karmic consequences of hibiscus murder.


  1. I love you. That is the funniest story EVER!! Seriously, you should write comedies, oops about your life.

    1. Thanks Patti! That's my dream--to write full time! Fingers crossed.

  2. I totally agree - your life is hilarious - in a good way - and well done Opie for stepping up when it mattered the most :) You will surely get your reward in heaven for having saved this hibiscus (and the caterpillar) - I am just a bit concerned that we may have been separated at birth though as there are just too many similarities between how we go about things!! Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. Thanks--and, yes, Opie was my hero for this one!