That’s how I imagine it would go. That’s probably why my house won’t ever be on a garden tour.
The yards — front and back — have come to disappoint My Lovely Wife and me. Certain once-hardy bushes have started dying — ancient azaleas; long-lived laurels — and so we’re forced to ponder a landscape upgrade. There’s only so long you can go with your front door flanked by brown and crispy shrubs, like something out of a Charles Addams cartoon.
We tried to brighten things up with daffodils, planted last fall on the slope in front of our house, but I don’t consider them a complete success. For some reason, the daffodils don’t all face the same direction. Some offer their yellow faces to the north, some to the south. I don’t know how that’s even possible for a heliocentric plant, unless these narcissus are as stupid as they are vain: literally dim bulbs.
But it’s the backyard Eastern redbud that’s the real trowel in the gut. We planted it five years ago. It’s actually the second one we planted there. The first died after a couple of years. Apparently we hadn’t watered it enough during an especially dry fall, and it had croaked without ever giving us the purple blossoms we craved: those branches that look as if they’ve been sprayed with something sticky, then rolled in wadded-up crepe paper.
So we dug out its carcass and planted another one. This one we have babied: improving the drainage so it won’t get too wet, watering it when conditions are too dry.
My wife insists it had buds when she brought it back from the nursery. But every spring since then, it’s gone straight from bare winter branches to green summer leaves. Scratch that: This year it had two flowery buds high up on one branch, taunting us.
It seemed to be saying, “See? I can do it. I just choose not to.”
The Internet tells us this sometimes happens, that it can take a replanted redbud a few years before it overcomes its trauma or shyness and deigns to flower. I didn’t know these trees were so finicky. Drive down any Mid-Atlantic interstate and you’ll see them blooming in profusion in the scrubby, trash-strewn medians — not exactly France’s gardens of Giverny.
What especially annoys me is that a couple of years before moving from our previous house to this one, I planted a redbud in the backyard. That tree had no problem extruding flowers from its branches. I assume it still blooms every spring. I’ve half a mind to creep over there in a ghillie suit after the current occupants have gone to bed and check it out.
“Remember me?” I’ll whisper as I caress its sturdy trunk. “Nearly 20 years ago I planted you. Can I interest you in moving?”
I recently asked readers what new vocabulary words have been inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. Dave Prevar of Annapolis had plenty. A “snask,” Dave wrote, is a mask you’ve sneezed into.
“Sanimisers” are people who managed to use sanitizing wipes and gels extremely sparingly during shortages — unless they’d hoarded it.
“PPF” is the money we’ve spent on masks, gloves and other wearable coronavirus protection. It stands for “personal protective fee.”
Dave said that “chorentine” is the time we spent on accomplishing neglected chores while restricted to our homes.
Bobby Baum of Bethesda, Md., offered “glog.” That’s what happens when your mask doesn’t fit correctly and your eyeglasses fog up.
Ross Hunter of Lexington, S.C., said his 5-year-old grandson, Will, has shortened “hand sanitizer” to “hanitizer.”
Wrote Ross: “That’s all we use now.”
Ron Bianchi of Suffolk, Va., said that when he and his wife were notified they’d scored vaccine appointments, they exclaimed, “We won the shottery!”
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.