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?