Digging With the Divas

(This article was written by Kathy Kloba in 2002. It appeared that year in a publication by the Lilacia Garden Club and in Judy Garrett's Homegrown magazine.)

Have you ever stood in your garden, envisioning new beds, or wanting to renew old ones, but found the idea overwhelming? Don’t go out there alone, nibbling away at your landscape while wishing you could afford help. Have fun with your friends and form a landscaping co-op.

Here in Central Texas, our Divas of the Dirt were formed in the 1990’s by a core of friends who brought other women into the group. When a former member dropped out 3 years ago, the remaining Divas put new nominees into a pool. I believe my guardian angel put my name on the slip that was drawn out.

Each member is the hostess once a year. In a good year we might get 8 months in this region when we can work outside – that’s why we stick with seven members. In January we have breakfast at a favorite restaurant and get organized. The seven Divas pull names of the seven most usable months. Our group tries to meet on the second Saturday of those months, but we’ve learned to be flexible. We’ll also have a Christmas pot luck and grab bag, visit nurseries, cruise antique shops, and email jokes and inspiration to one another.

When the first Digging Day of the season approaches, the hostess plans her project, often with the help of other Divas. Mulch, compost, stone and plants are assembled; emails describe the project and suggest the needed tools. When the Divas start drifting in at eight AM on the big day, they are greeted with wonderful aromas and fresh coffee – because these gardeners also love cooking for others. We’ve shared egg casseroles, waffles, pancakes, French toast, hash browns, bacon and venison sausage, quiche, fabulous fruits, and creamy cheese grits. We might need those calories! If the project goes on into mid-afternoon, a lunch or snack better show up, too.

Once we’re out in the dirt, with a cooler of bottled water and sports drinks in the shade, the work goes at an amazing pace. Rocks, stumps and bags of compost that would tax the strength of one woman are easy for three working together. Each person brings some talent we need…one loves to prune, one to dig, another can lay stone, one always sees the way to balance the landscape and one always knows where good stuff is on sale.

We have been incredibly lucky with this blend of personalities. The conversation swirls and individual members work for a while as partners. As the tasks shift and change, the small groups separate, and re-form, so all the friends work and talk one-on-one during the day. They are efficient and gutsy – trying any challenge. Since they’re women, they clean up as they go along, leaving a minimum of mess for the hostess.

They are so hilarious! It is astounding how much gets done in one day. Is it work? Absolutely! Is it fun? Oh, my, yes! And the sheer drama of these transformations is becoming addictive. What a joy to watch my friend’s face as she saw her garden dream materialize.

All our Texas yards and gardens needed major renovations – maybe you have a great landscape but need help with maintenance. Imagine six women meeting for a two-hour weeding and clipping party at a different house every week. Two hours outside with a few friends is safer and more fun than those solitary marathons. And we learn so much from each other – horticulture and pop culture, biography and real estate, movies and music.

A few cautions – your members need to be givers not users, and with a love for gardening, not just for the results… otherwise, the magic will be lost. See if our ideas of chlorophyll and cooperation will enrich your life, too!

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