The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Dedicated to a Brave Hosta

The Bread Winner and I have many dogs and a rather small backyard. Last summer we noticed that the backyard had a certain odor. Our neighbors, whose backyards bordered ours, would step outside and say, "What is that smell? Is there something dead somewhere?" You might be thinking that the Bread Winner and I had failed to pick up after our dogs, and the odor was nothing more than shit baking in the sun. Au contraire. We do pick up the doo-doo. The odor was, in fact, the urine soaked earth itself. And what to do about that?

The Bread Winner turned to her favoirte magazine for advice: Martha Stewart Living. Martha recommended planting mint and peonies. Apparently, mint, if allowed to, will grow rampant and become ground cover. Every time the dogs' paws tread over it, they crinkle the leaves, releasing a refreshing mint scent into the air. And peonies produce fragrent blossoms and are, according to Martha, dog urine resistent. (I joked to the Bread Winner, Maybe they should be called "pee-on-me's", heh-heh. She didn't laugh.)

Taking Martha's advice, we decided to plant mint and peonies this past spring. We knew mint would be easy to find, but it seemed that peonies would have to be ordered. We checked out the White Flower Farm Catalog and discovered that they were around $40 a pop. That seemed like a lot. We thought, Maybe we'll get one this year and see how it goes. Then my friend Beth-Marie said that she had peonies in her backyard that she would be happy to part with since she had so many. She pointed them out to me, and I proceeded to dig up six plants in early spring when they were nothing more than stalks a few inches out of the ground. I brought them home and planted them along our fence lines--two on one side, four on the other--hoping to create a pleasant scent buffer between our backyard and those of our neighbors.

Funny thing happened when the peonies started to grow in. Two of them were hostas. Who knew? Not I, clearly. The hostas had managed to organize themselves well--they were in with what I had thought were four peonies, and which were actually peony, hosta, peony, hosta.

While the peonies and hostas were growing in, we stuck cheap, little, white wire fences around them to keep the dogs from drenching them in urine while they were still adjusting to their new environment. But since we'd specifically wanted peonies because we understood them to be dog urine resistant, once they got to a respectable size, we removed the fence.

Then another strange thing happened: once the fence was down, both of our big dogs made a beeline for the first hosta and just pissed all over it. They did this time and time again. Every time they were let out into the yard, they headed for this one poor hosta and drenched it. I watched as they went so far as to strandle the hosta, positioning their penises directly in its middle, and letting it rip. Needless to say, it didn't take long (less than a week) for the hosta to wilt and turn yellow--not unlike the yellow urine raining down on it several times a day.

At first we thought it was just a quirk and they would move on, but when it was clear that the hosta was on death's door, we put the fence back around the plants and hoped it would make a recovery. It didn't.

Recently, we took the fence back down. The hosta is dead and has been for months. But the dogs still love to piss there. I don't know what it is about that spot, but we've learned our lesson. No future plant will be placed there. That space will remain a urine soaked memorial to the hosta that didn't make it.

10 Comments:

  • You can kill hostas? Gosh, I've been trying to murder mine for years. Can I borrow your dogs? Mine is falling down on his job. C'mon over and get some of these monster hostas, why don't'cha, and save us from calling in the National Guard. These giant hostas hark back to before my beloved grandmother died and they're out'ta control. They just keep growing and spreading, growing and spreading, growing and...ulp...run for your life!

    By Blogger foxymama, at 3:39 PM, August 21, 2004  

  • Man, that was a great post. Am I nuts to laugh at "pee-on-me"? Whatever, it's good shtuff.

    By Blogger Tim, at 2:48 PM, August 22, 2004  

  • I agree... "pee-on-me's" is friggin' hilarious. I probably would have made a similar comment in your case and gotten a similar response. It happens all the time.

    By Blogger Newell, at 5:08 PM, August 22, 2004  

  • Foxy, Be careful what you wish for. I've got extra dogs, and I'm always trying to pawn them off on someone! If you don't want the hassle of another dog (I'm fairly certain you don't), just convince your husband to go out there and "water" the plants for you. That should do the trick, too.

    Tim & Newell, Yes, I thought pee-on-me was quite clever. I don't know how the Bread Winner doesn't agree with us.....

    By Blogger Oz, at 1:06 PM, August 23, 2004  

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