Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lessons from my Garden

GranNomi, trying to figure out what each herb was used for in Jamestown.

I made an interesting observation on my little family history trip a couple of weeks ago. My grandmother stops at every flower and tree and tries to figure out what it is. At first I was a bit impatient--she was slowing down our busy itinerary to see every site in southern Virginia in five days. But then I realized that I had gained a love of flowers and plants from her.

Barbara admiring the herb garden at Jamestown.

My sister and her family are in Utah this week (of all weeks! I love the the 4th of July in Provo!). They hiked Stewart Falls yesterday and Lisa posted on facebook about how Mom stopped at every wildflower and named each one. Totally nerdy, but totally my mom. Now I don't know even the beginning of the names of wild flowers, but I sure do appreciate them.
I love to grow flowers on my back patio. I usually buy flowers from Home Depot, but this year I decided to be adventurous and go with a free can of wild flower seed from a garage sale (ok, and my funds are a little low this time around. More minor field exams, conferences, and famikly vacations = less work hours). I also planted my grandmother's bean hyacinth seeds. I love watching them wind around the fence posts of my patio, yielding purple blossoms that brighten up the wood wall in dynamic ways.

For the record, my back patio does NOT look like Jefferson's garden at Monticello. But his garden is a worthy example for me.

I must say my yield has been low this season. Nothing much is happening. The bean hyacinchs were even very slow to start. A couple of weeks later, I tried again, being much more liberal with my scattering of seeds. One flower box took off with some wild-looking spurts and a few purple blossoms, and I've got a few hyacinths poking out. I even planted a beautiful gerbera daisy a friend gave me for my birthday, hoping that would coax out the blooms.
The other day, as I became frustrated with the lack of movement on several areas in my life, I came out to eat breakfast on my patio. To my surprise, there were some pink miniature rose buds. I hadn't even seen them coming! I found a few other little strokes of green.

I quickly grabbed my can of wildflower seed and liberally spread more seed everywhere. I went a little overboard, but I just became so anxious for some seed to take root and grow. I felt this overwhelming need to produce seed. To grow.

Last week my friend Lauren asked me to pick up their mail and water for them if it didn't rain while they were out of town. I didn't think much of it--on Wednesday their expected boxes arrived and I headed out back to water the flowers and vegetables. I noticed 3 bonsai trees sitting on a table, one of them looking pretty dry. I wasn't quite sure how to water them--something told me that their fragile nature required special care. Because Lauren hadn't mentioned anything, I hosed them down and didn't think much of it. It rained a bit the next two days and I considered my neighborly job done.

Sunday morning, though, I received an email from a sad Lauren, whose even sadder husband had found his beloved bonsai trees mostly dead. I say mostly, because I don't know anything about bonsai trees and because I consider myself partly responsible, although I had no idea how to properly care for them. And because I like the idea in The Princess Bride about how true love can save something that is mostly dead. Oh, I felt horrible. My ignorance--as well as the lack of communication and proper training--had not produced a fruitful labor.

This morning when I went out for my run, I saw the flower box out front. My gangly tiger lilies have flourished this year, and their blossoms have fallen. The box, though, was filled with grass. I stooped over to pull one, then realized that each blade seemed to be connected. It wasn't just grass growing, but this long, mass 0f weed and root taking over my flowers. I looked around at the neighbors' flower boxes, and realized what a mess mine had become. In all my desire to grow seeds out back, I have neglected my flowers in front. I became engrosed in the project and quickly spent 30 minutes pulling up long lengths of grassy weed.

Every morning now I can't wait to go out to my little garden patio and see what has happened overnight. I search for new blades and I cheer them on. I watch carefully, hoping to discern the weed from the flower, so I can protect the flower and stop the weed in its course.

And I hope, oh I hope, for those dormant seeds. They can come back to life if given the proper amount of time and water and light. Mostly dead, after all, is partly alive. And to blave means to bluff. Or True Love. Thank you, Miracle Max.

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