Building Support – A Lesson from My Garden

One of the identifying characteristics of cottage gardeners is that they grow as much of their gardens vertically as possible. The traditional cottage gardeners were not as financially well endowed as others. Because they had small tracts of land, they needed to grow as much of their gardens upward as possible.
Cottage gardeners grew roses on the walls of their houses, and they elected to grow plants, like hollyhocks, that tend to tower above. Other than that, they had to erect some type of arbor.
I have been a cottage gardener for many years, and I have become the Arbor Queen. In every piece of ground that I have gardened over the years, I have created labiyrinths of arbors.
My arbors serve two purposes: they provide privacy for me, and they create a support system for my vertical garden. But regardless of the materials I have used to build my supports, I have always run into the problem of not having enough hands.
When I’m building, I wish for tentacles—like an octopus—one arm to hold one part of the structure—one arm to hold another—one to hold the hammer—another to hold the nails—and yet another to do the building. And while I’m building my supports, they topple over several times—often hitting me on the head, as they fall. It’s always the same.
Jacki Kellum Garden
In my current garden, I have switched to metal raised beds and metal arbors, but I still have the same problem. I live alone. I still need at least 10 hands when I am building.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a tapping at my front door. I cautiously crept to the front of the house. No one ever visits me, but  after I opened the door, I saw a teenager that I know.
“Miss Jacki, I’m needing some extra work. Could you use another hand?”
I almost shouted out loud: “You betcha, buddy!’ But I was simultaneously muttering under my breath, “Did an angel send you?”  I reained my composure and added out loud: “Meet me in my backyard.”
My metal arbors do not need hammers and nails, but they require a mastery of the most asine clamps I have ever seen. If I try to use them coming from one direction, they scream, “Wrong Way!” Yet, they never fill in the blanks—”Well, which way?”
The father of the young man who reported for work one sunny day is an engineer. Besides that, the boy is a male. Aren’t boys better at building than girls? I directed the young man: ”While I hold up the beams, you clamp them in place. You see. It goes something like this..”
With that rudimentary lesson, I released my teenager on his first mission. But two hours later, while I was stll standing there, melting in the hot sun, the boy threw down the clamp and screamed: “This is the wrong clamp!”
I rubbed my head and whispered back: “All the clamps are the same. You are simply not using them correctly.”
The boy was mad, and I was wringing with sweat. The two of us agreed to call it a day.
A Garden Song for Today:
Reds and Pinks and Roses.
Bend and Touch my Toeses.
Tossing Colored Kisses
As they sway.