Heavy lifting

Physical labor was one of the first things that drew me to gardening. — Back when I was 18 and restless from so much sitting in school and studying. (Do most people take up jogging or playing team sports?) And while I do still find the drop-dead exhaustion of a long day’s work outside exquisitely gratifying, in recent years I have started to feel a little creakiness creep in along with the weariness. These past couple of weeks spent taking gardens apart and moving back into the greenhouse have been especially… gratifying… and I didn’t even have to do the heaviest lifting.

Before we could commit to moving much into the greenhouse, we had to get our biggest beast out. A few years ago we planted a good-sized Agave americana out in the garden where it became really huge and happy. Before bringing it back inside that winter, we potted it in the largest pot we had and asked the guys to heft it onto a bench in the greenhouse. There it sat, increasing in girth and taking up precious bench real estate through summers and winters ever since. We needed the space but couldn’t bear to compost it. We held out until a new home could be found (who could possibly want a dangerously spiny houseplant the size of an armchair?) and we’re thrilled to see it finally go to the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. We worried that it wouldn’t make it out the door in one piece — we were prepared to saw the pot apart and cut off all the pups — but Fred and Dan managed to drag (?) it out the door with minimal injury (none to it, some to them). And today Gail and I said our goodbyes as Stefan and Guario lifted it into their truck and drove away looking happy. We’ll have to make a visit soon…

Meanwhile, we had another agave growing in the ground. Over the summer our second largest became huge and more beautiful than ever. Gail and I used every muscle to get it out and packed into the back of a station wagon on its way to live with another good friend of Blithewold.

With those beloved beasts out of the way, and other behemoths like the Calamondin orange and orchid cactus tucked in their traditional places inside, we spent the last few days getting everything back in around them. I appreciate any weight bearing exercise that might help stave off the onset of osteoporosis but this year we borrowed the handiest tool — a cart that fits through the door — and were able to deliver plants right to their benches instead of lugging them in arms one by one inside. Genius.

We had aimed to get everything in by the end of this week and aside from having to dig a few more stock plants (tender perennials) out of the gardens next week, I think we did it. And I have to say, sore muscles and all, it feels pretty good!

Do like doing the heavy lifting? Have you moved any of your garden back inside yet?


5 thoughts on “Heavy lifting

  1. Nothing has moved inside yet, no.
    But I have begun the laborious job of hauling plants (the huge philodendron and bird of paradise, the oranges and limes, but not the cacti, agaves and succulents yet) to the front porch where they get treated for the inevitable aphids, mealy bugs, scale and white flies.

    Please, Jack Frost, I am not ready yet.

    Johnnybc, It got cold here last night but still no frost — hope you’re feeling readier by now though! -kris

  2. I hate having to move plants inside. I’ve moved in a jade plant. I’m waiting on the Agapanthus, which will go into the garage. Life is easier without a greenhouse, in some respects.

    Susan, I’m not sure life is easier without a greenhouse at least for me… I’m still trying to shoehorn plants into my entry porch (plantry!) and living room. -kris

  3. My friend just told me about your blog and also “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook.(also a blog) I’m glad for the two recommendations. I love when people share good blogs with each other. Denise

    Denise, I love that too. Thanks for visiting! -kris

  4. Motivated by your inspiring application of huge tropical plants in the outdoor garden setting at Blithwold, I too acquired a large Agave plant for 40 dollars last year at a local nursery. I hauled it inside end of season, where it sat practically smack in the middle of our TV / computer room upstairs.My husband silently and graciously ducked around its outstretched arms all winter without so much as an “ouch”.We hauled it back out again in the spring and set it into the ground, keeping it in its pot. It flourished all summer, and last Friday we hauled it back int the house through the front door pot first to prevent damage. How many years that we can keep this going is uncertain, but it was one of the best 40 dollar garden purchases I have made!

    Jean, that’s too funny! I can’t believe you hauled it upstairs AND that no one was injured. Phil is a saint. Best of luck to you three this winter! -kris

  5. To Jean:
    Who is selling giant $40 agaves. Need To Know!
    I have 1/2 dozen or so medium sized ones, and another 1/2 dozen of their pups. I don’t really need to know where to get more….

    Johnnybc, plant one of yours in the ground (out of its pot) next summer and you’ll have your very own giant in no time! -kris

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