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My Secret Garden


I wish I were a garden person. I love the whole “metaphor for life” idea of plants’ growth cycle and how you can learn so much from planting a garden.
That being said, I am as lethal an herbicide as anything banned by the EPA. To sell me a seedling is to guarantee its demise in a most painful and lonely way.
I start out well enough. Who can resist a garden center on a warm, spring day and all those green seedlings waving gently in the breeze? And you just know in a few weeks you will have a garden lively with color and fragrance because look at the picture on the little plastic stake next to the plant. Look at the millions of blooms that will appear like magic from that little two-inch sprout.
I spend the rest of the day clearing what right now I’m calling the flower bed. Every year there are lots of weeds in this bed because last year the chore of weeding got away from me. But that won’t happen this year. This year is different.
I clear the flower beds for my new plants that are going to be lively with color and fragrance. It takes awhile and soon the rest of the family is beginning to look a bit ravenous. Tomorrow I will plant my tiny seedlings in my newly-cleared flower bed.
I’m up early the next morning because the sky is looking ominous and for some reason I’ve bought an awful lot of seedlings. Were there really that many yesterday?
In the ground they go, most of them anyway. I run out of flower bed. I need to clear another bed, but it’s going to rain so it will have to wait until tomorrow. It never does rain, but luckily I remember to water all those plants before I go to bed.
The next day is a work day. I work at home, so I make a mental note to remember to water the plants that morning because I won’t get outside until the afternoon. By the afternoon I remember I was supposed to water the plants that morning but, since I’m going to be out there in an hour or so…is that the time?… Okay, I don’t think I’ll be able to do any planting today, but I’ll water them right after dinner.
Around 3 a.m. in the morning I wake up realizing I hadn’t watered at all and make a mental note to water first thing in the morning. By morning the plants still in the flats are dead, so I hastily toss them in a garbage can, lest the plants in the ground catch a glimpse of the carnage.
The plants in the ground, sucking desperately at the dew, aren’t looking especially perky. I decide to get out the hose and give them a good drink of water, mentally apologizing for killing their relatives. The hose has a hole in it, so I have to find the watering can, but the phone is ringing and I need to get to work. At noon I find the watering can in the outdoor dog run, the spout chewed to a nub. But it still holds water and, while the stream is a little strong for some of the weaker plants, most of them survive the deluge. I mark “watering can” on my shopping list because you can buy just about anything in a grocery store these days.

The next day is another warm day and, though it is still a work day, I make sure I’m out there to give my precious plants some water. First I have to move our Australian Shepherd Topper out of the flower bed where he’s cooling off on the damp earth — and the end three seedlings. I water all of them, hoping the crushed ones will spring to life with joy having received a drink two days in a row.
The rest of the week is chaotic, but it rains one day, so I figure that’s enough moisture for then and maybe the next day.
Finally it’s been a week and, while the seedlings aren’t exactly looking lush, they’re not dead either. However weeds, encouraged by that one shower in the middle of the week, are now bigger than my plants. I’d pull them but we have plans for this Saturday and I’d do it Sunday but we’ve got family coming over.
The next week I pull enough weeds to free up at least half the plants, though we’ve lost the ones Topper sat on and a few more. But it’s sure getting hot this time of year…
The weeds never really leave I notice one day on my way to the car. I make a mental note to pull them this weekend and maybe even water because there must be a few of the original plants still in there. I’m not sure, but I can see the bud of something and it might not be a weed.
Vacation is coming, so I know I’d better get the weeds under control before then and make a mental note to tell the housesitter to water my flower beds. But I never get around to weeding and then I’m too embarrassed to ask the housesitter to water a bed of weeds.
By the time we come home the flower bed is a jungle. I don’t think my plants are in there.
So I face the reality of the situation: I am not cut out to be a gardener. I will hire a landscaper to plant hardy, low-maintenance plants that I don’t have to tend to. I accept that no one is good at everything and my thing to not be good at is gardening.
Because of my decision, next year hundreds of seedling will live because I won’t even attempt to plant anything.
In fact, I’ve made a mental note not to visit any garden centers in the spring.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:19 AM | Permalink

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