The Secret Life of A Gardener


A life apart, separated into segmented moments.

Plants literally scream at me: I’m dying of thirst; the sun is too hot.

I respond with the garden hose in hand walking among my December-Planted collards. I was fooled into thinking they could survive without me, that they could subsist off the land.

But seeing them drooped, sulking, sullenly aloof- tore at me. If I did nothing, they would die.

We take rain for granted, when it comes we complain; not me, I cherish the rain. It makes my job as a gardener easier.





The things that own us


We are some 15 years into our present home, you would have to ask my wife the exact date, and shortly after moving in, I set about making general repairs; the first of which was the shower faucets, which dripped, would not lend itself to being shut off.

After several failed attempts to locate the parts from such places as Lowes/Home Depot, I set down and started calling plumbing supply stores from the phone directory.

By chance, I made contact with A-1 plumbing supplies.

I had removed the part and took it inside the store. The place was a room fronted by a counter where two men stood whom didn’t strike me as plumbers; they had more of an academic flair than someone whom worked on pipes and such things that flush.

About every three years or so now, it has become my task to drive to their store and to pay for replacement parts.

Invariably, I forget the name of the part.

This time, I showed him  a picture and he kind of scoffed and said that could be one of hundred parts.

I asked him to start naming them; he listed off about six when I stopped him: that’s it- Eljer. He then went behind him into a door-less opening that gave way to a series of tall steel framed shelves.

As he stood before me, I watched him take apart each piece and from a canister he removed from a drawer beneath his waistline, opened it and from the same drawer produced a small brush that he used to apply grease from the canister in a way you would think that he was painting his master piece.

It was the hallmark of my day: to witness such devout attention to a obsolescent object. In a seemingly mindless fashion, I watched as he would put the parts back together with me wanting to say, there you left that piece off, but then of its own volition his hand would self correct the part into place.








A New Level of Care


When I was a framer, framing houses with other carpenters, there was a constant refrain: you can’t see if from your house; it was stated every-time I was sweating an 8th of inch; they would say it’s gonna get covered, let it go.

The beauty of this new project, it’s down to 32 of an inch.

The client has made a choice above trex composite decking; they chose cumaru hardwood, sometimes referred to as Brazilian Teak; also, known as Tonka Bean, and the tree is commonly cultivated for its vanilla-cinnamon scented seed.

Never have I been drawn to my work as much as this wood requires a new level of care.

Often, while working with pressure treated lumber, I will make excuses as I go owing to the variable nature of the wood, but with this hardwood, you can’t make excuses; it wont stand for it; it requires the upmost care and attention.


Client Base Design


This project like many of my of my better projects was based solely upon the will of the client.

I provide them with choices and the choices they made were uniquely theirs.

Its the first time I have used 5/4 decking boards for the slats. I used to think that 1by6s were an upgrade for 1/2 pickets.

This client wanted the look and feel of a California hardwood lateral fence with no trim, just lateral boards.

I am happy with this project, it has provided me with insight into my next project using  Brazilian hardwood. Great care will have to be given to making the screw patterns consistent.

Zen on Dime

Working from a place where you don’t know the outcome, but by an intuitive process you find where you might begin; you start eliminating, reducing your chosen area down to its particulars. I call this aspect of my work: zen on a dime; where you don’t have to spend money to bring about some semblance of beauty.



I have hundreds of such projects, those hidden gems that required no money, just time so that they could devolve their hidden beauty. Around my home, they abound; they are my way to sustain a creative flow. People think you have to spend money to make something beautiful; I believe you just have to cultivate your own sense of what is beautiful. Maybe it began for me when I read years ago that we should take one part of our yard and make it a secret garden, a place where you can call your own.