There’s a guy up my street—I think his name is Wayne—whose lawn looks as if he goes out there with tweezers and a magnifying glass each morning at sunrise and removes any offending growth. Not a single blade of grass is out of place, not a weed to be found. The edges of everything are straight, the lawn colour is uniformly emerald green, just like the picture on the bag of grass seed. Wayne’s shrubs are coiffed, taking exactly the shapes he has requested that they take. Ellipses, spirals, even the odd perfectly formed dodecahedron.
The overall effect is quite a juxtaposition with my own yard: the patchy, scraggly turf, whose decline has closely paralleled the diminishing strength of fertilizing products sanctioned by the City of Toronto over the past few years. The grass, now more clover than anything else, has inexplicable white patches, seemingly indicative of the presence of a desperately incontinent pet, which we do not have.
Aside from the grass, there are garden beds that simply refuse to be delineated, their borders morphing by day, as growth of things I did not plant occurs rather freely. There is a weird-looking Corkscrew Hazel tree that has always had a mind of its own, and the tulips and daffodils that I have planted over the years seem to be getting moved annually according to the whimsy of a family of squirrels that has a penchant (if not a proficiency) for landscape design.
Clearly, Wayne knows what he is doing, and the elements of nature within his realm have accepted his authority. Just as clearly, I have no flipping idea how to tame my little corner of the universe. If I were a smaller person, I might resent Wayne, or at the very least, feel that he might be quietly gloating just a little as he surveys the glory around him and the evidence of mass failure that exists just beyond his property lines. But I think everyone needs a guy like Wayne on their street. A guy who sets the standard to which we can all aspire. The perfect yard isn’t just a computer-enhanced fantasy from Gardener’s Digest—it’s right here, attainable for anyone who puts in the effort, and maybe knows a few tricks.
I once actually spoke to Wayne. Stopped on the sidewalk as I was starting out for my usual walk, complimented him and asked him outright what his secret was. He smiled enigmatically, shrugged, and said simply, “water.”
Well, okay, Wayne. You keep your secrets. And thanks, by the way, for helping to bring up my property’s value with your gorgeous landscape. One day when you’re ready to talk, I’ll be happy to return the favour.