What a great feeling to wake up this morning and realize that finally, after a winter that seemed like it would go on forever, spring had arrived and it was time to plan what I would plant in my garden this year. It was time for gardening!
I was like a “kid in the candy store” today. Only my “candy” was gardening supplies. I could hardly wait to stroll through the garden store and select a few pots for planting seeds. And soil, must have soil. I always like to get a few plants that have already been started. It’s satisfying to look out the window and see plants already growing. It makes me less impatient for the seeds to take root and grow.
Although we recently downsized and moved to an apartment, I am so happy that I can still garden. It’s a small container garden on the patio, but, it’s a garden.
There is just something about gardening. It’s that feeling of pride and satisfaction at accomplishing something. Salad tastes so much better when the lettuce and veggies came from your own garden. And, maybe there is a beautiful flower arrangement in a vase on the table. The colors seem so much more vibrant and the scent is more fragrant when the flowers have been picked from your own garden. And the herbs. I love cooking with my fresh herbs and I always look forward to a cup of fresh peppermint tea.
The funny thing is, I never used to think of myself as much of a gardener. As a young child I knew the difference between a tree and a flower. My mom used to tell us the names of some of the trees and flowers and eventually I knew some of the names, too. But I never gave much thought to houseplants or gardens. We had a few houseplants, but not a garden. Taking care of the plants was not one of my chores, so I barely acknowledged that they were there.
I knew that farmers grew vegetables. And in the summer time we would sit on the back porch and snap beans, shell peas and shuck corn. I knew that corn grew really tall and in the summers we used to go to Iowa to visit my grandma and we passed corn field after corn field.
When I was twelve, we moved from Indiana to Michigan and again, we had some houseplants and my mom had a small flower garden outside. And again, I wasn’t responsible for taking care of them beyond watering them once in a while if I was asked to. Other than that, I didn’t really have a lot of interest in the plants. I noticed the flowers a little bit more because they were so colorful and pretty to look at. We lived out in the country on 40 acres of land and I loved to take long walks and enjoyed all the wildflowers growing in the fields.
I’m not really sure exactly when, but at some point my sister took over the care of the houseplants. Over the years the plants were starting to look a little sad. My mom stayed busy between running kids to activities (there were eight of us kids) and always having activities of her own, and the plants weren’t getting the attention they used to get. So, my sister just kind of volunteered and took over the plants. She nursed them back to health and they were looking the best they had looked in years.
Then it happened. My sister decided to get married and then she moved with her husband to a state a few thousand miles away. As they hugged each other good-bye, my sister’s last “command” to our mom was, “take good care of the plants.”
We stood there in the yard waving until their car was out of sight. My mom continued to cry for several days, because after all, her “baby,” her oldest child, had just left on a road trip that would take her far, far away. Or, was she crying because she had just been instructed to take care of the plants?
Fast forward about a year, and we were coming up on my wedding. My husband and I actually met at my sister’s wedding. My husband and her husband were best friends and had met while they were stationed together in the Navy.
So, there we were, just about two weeks from my wedding. One day, as I passed through the kitchen, on my way to the living room, my mom told me she needed my help with something. She was in the kitchen, baking. She told me she was getting nervous. I asked her why she was nervous and she said because my wedding was just two weeks away and that meant my sister would be arriving soon. But she didn’t seem excited to see her. As a matter of fact, she said that’s what was making her nervous, that my sister would be, “here, in the house.”
I shrugged, not quite following her. I laughed when my mom said she thought my sister might notice the plants hadn’t gotten the loving attention that she had been instructed to give them.
I glanced up and looked at the plant sitting on the kitchen window sill. Oops, I guess the plants had indeed been neglected. Were they all like that? I took a quick tour of the living room and dining room. Yes, the plants definitely hadn’t had the loving attention they should have had.
Well, I had been busy planning a wedding and working full-time. I didn’t have time for the plants.
Of course, I had to concede that my mom didn’t really have a lot of time for them either. With my older sister and brother out of the house, and I soon would be moving, she still had five more kids she was busy with. Between their activities and her own activities, she really was busy and I could easily see how the plants could get neglected.
We agreed that my sister would definitely notice the plants were, um, not quite alive.
My mom’s idea was that maybe we could buy all new plants to replace the plants that were more or less gone. She wanted to buy plants that looked exactly like the existing ones, only they would be healthy plants and my sister would be tricked into thinking they were the same plants.
My idea was to get rid of the dead plants, buy all plastic plants, put them in dirt and dust them once in a while and then she would never have to worry about them again.
We took a trip to the nursery. We agreed that neither of our ideas were going to fool my sister and that the best plan would be to just buy a few new plants and ‘fess up to my sister that somehow “her” plants had been neglected.
Over the next week and a half or so, we joked about how my sister would react when she realized that her plants had been mistreated. Of course we both knew she wouldn’t really be mad, but, it was fun joking about it and knew that my sister would get a good laugh out of it.
Finally, the big day arrived. No, not my wedding day. The day my sister and brother-in-law were to arrive in town for the wedding.
I was home when they arrived, and my mom said how glad she was that I was there for moral support.
Then, we saw their car as it pulled into the driveway. And the next thing we knew, they were in the house. After a round of hugs, my sister blurted out, “So, you killed the plants, didn’t you?” She had noticed the plant on the kitchen window sill was different and just presumed that the rest of the plants had died.
My love for gardening gradually developed over the years. I started with houseplants and unlike the poor, neglected houseplants at my mom’s house, I found that I had a knack for caring for plants and loved them. When we had kids, I learned about poisonous plants and kept those away from the kids and eventually got rid of them completely.
After a visit to my sister’s house and a tour of her garden, I discovered how easy it is to grow herbs and vegetables.
I started small and eventually added more herbs and veggies to my garden each year.
Now, we have a smaller living space and I’ve had to go back to a smaller garden. But I will always have the desire to plant a garden. Besides providing fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and flowers, the act of gardening is good for you. The benefits are good for the mind, body and spirit.