Turning your garden hose into a zebra
The greatest challenge of the gardener’s world is what to do with the hose. Every house has one. They’re essential and universal. And they are always ugly.We’ve seen all sorts of efforts to hide them over the years, but the solutions are often more of an eyesore than the hose itself. Big plastic boxes with reels inside still take up a lot of space and are rarely attractive in design. Hose pots look better, but you have to get that hose coiled up perfectly if it’s to fit inside tidily. If you’re a seasoned gardener you know just how tough that is when you’ve got worn spots, kinks and distorted and aging hoses.Another tack was to redesign the hose altogether. Spring coiled hoses shaped like a Slinky appeared a few years ago and were all the rage. The thinking was that if the hose sprung right back into its tight coil it would take up far less space when not in use. Plus you wouldn’t have the chore of coiling it up each time. They functioned as designed. But, like a kinked up Slinky toy, a snarled coil hose is not easy to untangle and usually thrown away.Then designers thought that if the hose were a bright color it would become some kind of modern garden art. Or maybe just more fun to look at. The spring coiled hoses were done in bright colors, too. But at the end of the day a brightly colored hose is still a hose that is even more noticeable than the old green, black or turquoise ones.
Call it an obsession, but I’ve spent years pondering this garden hose dilemma. When on safari in Africa I heard guides explain the ways animals’ coats helped disguise them in the bush. Being there allowed me to see first hand how well this worked. Zebra literally disappear in the dry season when the trees are leafless and their stripes blend into the bare trunks like a Bev Doolittle painting. Resting in the spotted shade during the heat of the afternoon, I almost missed a napping leopard perfectly camouflaged in the brush. Cheetah lying low in the golden grass of the Serengeti are practically invisible if you aren’t looking for them.Then it struck me that gardens are a lot like the wild African bush. They’re filled with plants and grasses that present to the eye much the same effect. So naturally anything with similar patterns and colors would visually blend in. So I tried to paint a black garden hose with leopard spots. But it was a huge job. And the paint quickly discolored and then peeled off entirely after a little wear and water. That was definitely not the solution.Some time passed before my friend Debbie complained how much it cost her to buy a fabric cover for her built-in house vacuum hose. Apparently the hoses mark up floors and ding furniture so most folks have to buy the protective covers separately. This quilted cover gave the vacuum a nice look and did the job. When I saw it a light went on in my head.I went home and started looking at fabrics. Finally I settled on a certain type of bathing suit Spandex that stretched in the right directions. I got out my old sewing machine and went to work. My husband thought I was nuts, but that didn’t deter me a bit. He knows it’s futile when my obsessive-compulsion juices kick into overdrive. Finally, as I slid it onto my ugly battered green hose, Jim’s eyes lit up and he finally got it.I had an instant tiger-striped golden garden hose sheathed in tight fitting Spandex. It bent with the hose in every direction. I even sewed a little loop on the ends to allow me to take it off and wash the dirt out to keep it bright. That hose perfectly matched my buckskin sandstone slabs and feather grass in our Southwestern style yard.”You ought to sell those,” Jim said. My first Hose Clothes are up at my Web site, http://www.MoPlants.com. I want to hear what everyone else thinks about this crazy idea. If you like it, let me know what color and pattern you’d prefer for your hose, and we’ll see what we can whip up.Finally, though, my quest is solved. There’s now a stylish wardrobe for garden hoses that not only makes them disappear, but allow them to change with the seasons.Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of “Weekend Gardening” on DIY Network. Contact her at her Web site http://www.moplants.com or visit http://www.diynetwork.com.
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