Garden-Variety Torture

In the gardening world, the summer doldrums are brought on by two things: weeding and watering. They usually set in around July 4, but this year they came early. After transplanting dozens of greenhouse-nurtured annuals, I held my breath and waited for rain. When it stayed hot and dry, I looked at the wilting leaves of the Chinese foxglove, red salvia and red Russian kale and knew what I had to do.

Tending a public garden in Riverside Park has many pleasures (some of which I will discuss in a minute), but watering is not one of them—especially when your only source of water is a bathroom faucet in a sort-of-nearby parkhouse. A neighboring co-op’s industrial reel of hose didn’t get me close enough, so I put in a call to park headquarters and waited for another long coil to arrive.

And then, that second garden torture: weeding. To survive this most arduous act, you need tools, and I had recently lost my fine nejiri (a Japanese weeder made of a carbon-steel wedge). So while I waited for the replacement for that, I resorted to yanking and stabbing using a flimsy screwdriver-looking thing, with very subpar results.

Hours later (this is a nonprofit), the hose arrived and I began to spray.

Not only did the annuals get a cool drink, but the peonies and those always-thirsty hydrangeas (they don’t call them hydrangeas for nothing) perked right up. And now, those pleasures: Standing on a park bench squirting water from a hose, I was not only the star attraction for the toddlers on their way to the playground (I could see the envy in their eyes!), but the stragglers from a Collegiate School gym class, dragging their feet on the way back from the basketball court, got a cool surprise. Doldrums be gone!

To order your own nejiri, go to Garden-Variety Torture