Garden Help: Give youth a chance
Turning a garden into a private oasis has never been more important
Sometimes a gift comes knocking and other times we have to go looking for it.
Either way, it’s not always easy to recognize it when it comes cloaked in the midst of one of the the worst pandemics the world has ever seen. Ours came in the form of a text message from a young man – home from university – and looking for work during these difficult times. Many of our youth have been robbed of their summer jobs and are struggling to raise enough money to live on their own or return to university and college next year.
And, so the gift that came as a message on my phone: “Hi Vic… If there is any outdoor work that you would like to get done this summer I would be very happy to come and help out. If you are not comfortable with it, I completely understand, though I could come with my own gloves, water etc and stay outside to ensure proper distancing. Let me know what you think, no rush.”
Let me say one thing. If you are in a position to hire a worker, whether it’s a student or just someone who is unemployed and needs a job, do it now. We need to help others and we need to do it now.
He and I had completed other garden projects in past years together. I mostly provide the vision and and this young man provides the hard work.
His timing could not have been better.
Like most of us, our backyard garden has become our refuge during this pandemic. It’s always been a place my wife and I retreat to when we need some peace from the world, but it has never been more important than it is now.
(For more on gardening on a budget check out my in-depth here.
Ours was looking a little shabby. The projects were piling up in my mind as fast as my right hip was disintegrating and making the simplest of these projects an extremely painful exercise.
And along comes the answer to our problems.
I am sure we are not alone. Those of us lucky enough to have homes and gardens to retreat to, who are still employed or living comfortably in retirement, owe it to our youth to help them get through these difficult times. Afterall, much of their hardship is the result of decisions being made by our governments to protect the lives of us older folks.
It’s time to pay them back and, in return, benefit from their youthful energy.
Just two weeks later and our backyard has been transformed by this young man.
Nine yards of natural cedar mulch plus an additional 15-20 bags have replaced huge swaths of grass and over-run gardens that are now perfectly edged. Trees have a new home, hostas and grasses split into multiple plants and moved to new locations around the garden. A massive woodpile was created to provide a home for chipmunks, birds, snakes, salamanders and a host of insects. Patio stones lifted and straightened after years of slowly sinking into the ground and making the patio look shabbier than it was. Stone edges have been added to the patio. Old composters and BBQs disposed of and, in some cases, replaced after laying new patio stones. Stepping stones placed strategically around the garden bring it all together.
When the work was completed, I could tell he was almost as pleased with the results as I was. There was a lot for him to be proud of here.
Together, an old retired guy with a bad hip and a young man with a quiet disposition and a fierce work habit, got together to create something extremely important – a garden.
My vision, his muscle all came together in just a few weeks of work.
And I barely lifted a finger.
Truly a gift my wife and I will enjoy for years to come, but never more than the summer that Covid-19 forced us to stay home and appreciate the birds the flowers and trees that provide a refuge in these troubled times.
And, who knows, maybe our Woodland garden inspired a young man to take a real interest in the environment, gardening and one day creating his own Woodland retreat some time in the future when all this pandemic stuff is nothing but a bad dream.
I like to think the gift might have gone both ways.
Gardening on a budget links
Ten money-saving tips for the weekend gardener
DIY Bark Butter feeder for Woodpeckers
DIY reflection pond for photography
Click & Grow is ideal for Native Plants from seed
Remove your turf and save money
Hiring students to get your garden in shape
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