THIS IS NOT a tutorial for gardeners, at least those sorts of gardeners who are organized and careful about watering and pH levels and plants that prefer acidic or alkaline soil, or who consider pruning, for god’s sake.
Fundamentally, I am very lazy, and would much prefer to direct gardeners to do this and that, not do it myself. But thirty-odd years ago my husband, The Prince, and I happened to buy a house, spitting distance from the Capitol, and the house happened to have an area behind it that could only be called potential.
Here is what was there: dirt. Not particularly good dirt either, just dirty dirt, not soft and turned and rich and lovely and squirming with fat liver-colored worms. It was gritty and dry and heavy with clods of clay.
There was also a stick that the guy who owned the house before us said was an apricot tree. When he left we found a naked GI Joe doll in the attic, with hair glued on in a strategic place, and a hand gun. There was a rare lack of dispute between My Prince and me about the disposition of the doll. The gun was more contentious, though it eventually went. I believe there was some manly Clint Eastwood make-my-day vision involved as the neighborhood was—well, let us just say, to put it calmly, 30-some years ago there were no fancy prams, nannies and $35-a-pound cheeses on Capitol Hill.