People ask why we don’t hire someone to do the yard work. We like the exercise, we like being out in the fresh air and sunshine, but most of all, we like to look and see. Doing all the cleanup means we have walked over all the ground, studied how it lays, and found the best paths over the hill. Hand-weeding a patch of ground means you have really looked at everything there. There were enough terrace stones buried under the grass in the front to make a landing at the bottom of the front steps. We found a concrete pool, filled with bricks and rubble and grown over with ivy, and a hundred yards of stone-paved walk along the bottom of the property, covered in inches of dirt and vines.
We have been told that once upon a time, the garden here was a showplace. Little trace is left, but if we had paid someone to haul away the log pile at the bottom of the hill, we would not have found the peonies, and they would probably have been trampled. Hand-pulling the garlic mustard and grapevines from the hillside under the elm, we found what is probably Autumn Joy sedum – we won’t know for sure until it flowers in late summer – and a lilac bush. Painstakingly pulling the plantain from under the red maple, I found a semicircle of four evenly spaced clumps of something. Last year we must have mown over it; I think it may be forget-me-nots. When I finally got to clearing out the tangle under the bottom-most spruce, it turned out to have mock oranges and a climber I haven’t identified yet. Star-of-Bethlehem has appeared in the grass on the lower terrace. Clearing out along the upper retaining wall, I found bulbs of some sort. Some were grape hyacinths, but I suspect that there are others that haven’t bloomed because they have been buried in weeds so far. Every stint of weeding is an opportunity for a new discovery, of hidden things or just to look and see how things are and how things grow.