Friday, June 12, 2009

My Garden

My brothers sometimes tell of the year one of them gave me a cactus for Christmas because all the other plants I'd ever tended had died. Surely, I couldn't kill a cactus.

I did.

Years ago, I had a roommate with a green thumb who decorated our tiny apartment with plants and flowers. She went on a one-week vacation to Hawaii, leaving me with detailed instructions on how to care for the plants and flowers - exactly how much water to give and how often, even singing suggestions!

By the end of the week, they were brown and wilting even though I followed her instructions to a tee.

A couple years ago, my boss's wife brought a plant to the office as an apology for a fight they had. My coworker and I knew we'd be the ones caring for the plant and neither of us were happy about it. She's about as good with plants as myself. So, we neglected it. For months. It sat on the lobby bookshelf becoming progressively uglier and uglier until it was a brown, wilted stalk with shriveled up leaves.

Then someone (probably my boss's wife) put it in my office. My office is in the kitchen (let's just leave it at that) and has a sink, so maybe she had watered the plant and forgot to put it back on the bookshelf. No matter the reason, the plant was in my office and there it stayed. For weeks I tried to ignore it, but I can't just sit there and watch a living thing slowly die, so I started putting a bit of water in it before leaving. Just an evening here, an evening there.

It started to get green. Little shoots started pushing up through the dirt. I knew it needed sunlight, but I worried that if I moved it back to the lobby, I'd neglect it again, so I left it in my office awhile longer. As it got bigger and greener and prettier, I started to feel a sense of pride at having resuscitated it. I finally felt comfortable moving it to the lobby and from there, getting daily doses of sunlight, the plant has really flourished. Even my coworker has gotten into keeping it healthy and will water it when I'm out of the office.

This last experience gave me a little confidence and I finally decided to do something I've wanted to do for a long time. I created a garden!

Even as a kid I didn't garden. My allergies were so bad growing up that time spent outdoors was filled with sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, and lots of complaining. So, while the rest of my family tended the garden, I cleaned the house. Hence, I have no knowledge of gardening.

My sister-in-law went with me to the local plant nursery because I didn't feel confident enough to pick out my own plants. I knew what I wanted, but wasn't sure how to get what I wanted. One thing I knew; I didn't want to grow anything from seeds - I wanted baby plants.

The next evening, I gathered all my supplies on to my beloved patio; plants, pots (one I've had for years thanks to my stepmother who gave me a pot of flowers one year - they died in a couple months and the pot has stood barren ever since), potting soil, Miracle Grow, watering can, scissors, and a spoon (for digging - it was the best I could come up with). I loved the feel of dirt beneath my nails (though afterward I scrubbed them spotless), the smell of earth, the flow of water from my watering can onto the freshly planted plants, and the well-being that came with doing something so...refreshing.

In the big pot, I planted one cherry tomato, one grape tomato, and one yellow sweet pepper. The middle pot contains cilantro (yummy!) and to its right are chives. I would have liked to plant more herbs, maybe parsley, rosemary, and dill, but they didn't have those herbs when we went. Maybe it's better to start off small anyway. I can always get more plants!

Now my beloved patio is even more special, a true bit of heaven-on-earth. I can't wait to start eating tomatoes and peppers from my garden and using fresh herbs picked right from my porch!

Sigh. Life is good.


Cardine said...

One of these days I hope to be able to do gardening. But not today.

Hooray for you! They look great!

Framed said...

I planted two tomato plants and a row of carrots. Woohoo. I love fresh tomatoes also. It will be so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I have had similar experiences in killing plants, although I've always enjoyed trying. The last one I threw out was just a few weeks ago - it was a lingering Poinsettia I got at Christmastime. My brother told me I could make it last all year round - huh, I guess 6 months wasn't too bad. I was really quite impressed that new leaves grew. It's amazing what water will do.

Remember those plants I put in front of our apartment? I wonder if they're still there. Hmmm...

Madman said...

I have a deadly black thumb. My sister-in-law finally stopped asking me to take care of her plants while she was gone. She had to resuscitate them a couple times before learning that lesson.

Congrats on the conversion to a green thumb!

Mellissa said...

I feel you. My mom has the greenest thumb, and I did not inherit that from her! I finally found out that bamboo plants, which I love, are very easy to keep alive.

Good luck on your garden. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Booklogged said...

It's a wonderful garden. You're cilantro looks just like mine, which Grandma doesn't believe is cilantro. Nothing better than home grown tomatoes!

Melissa said...

I was thinking about your garden the other day, while out looking at mine. I am glad that you ended up getting some plants and herbs. I have rosemary, chives and one other planted this year in my flower bed, they will come back every year, YEAH! I can't wait to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Good luck with your little garden!

We should get together sometime, maybe I will have everyone over and have a little water party for the kids.

julie said...

Cardine, would you like a big garden with lots of different items planted or a small one? What would you like to plant? Unless I get married, I'm going to stay with a small, porch-sized garden.

Framed, oooo! I love garden carrots too! Next year, I'm going to be more on the ball and will plant carrots on my porch.

Sarah, I totally remember the plants you planted outside our apartment. I was really impressed with how you rigged the watering system. And you did a great job tending them - they looked great when we moved. Hmmm...I should drive by sometime and see if they're still there. Wouldn't be surprised, though, if they're not.

Mad, a deadly black thumb, eh? That sounds so ominous! And, I'm not sure if my thumb is green yet. If the plants are still alive by the end of the summer and actually produce fruit, then maybe we can say my thumb is greener than it used to be. :)

Missy, I've heard that about bamboo plants! Maybe I'll have to try growing them someday. Thanks!

julie said...

Book, I'm glad my cilantro looks normal. Has Grandma tried smelling or tasting it? If she did she'd know for sure! I totally agree with you about home-grown tomatoes. I can't wait 'til I start getting some!

Melissa, I'm so jealous that you have rosemary! I'm totally going to plant some someday. I hope your garden grows great and provides you with a generous bounty! And, I'm looking forward to our get together - whenever it ends up happening. :)

tearese said...

wow, good for you! I too kill all plants. I always get potted flowers for mothers day, and they always die within a few months. Can't they hand out candy instead? This year, I saw that there were flowers planted around the tree outside our apt, so I went and stuck my plant out there too, figuring it had a better chance.
Joseph has basil and dill growing on our porch. They do well as long as he remembers its his job to water them, not mine.
I would love to live in a house with a beautiful flower garden outside, but I would hate having to care for it, so it'll probably never happen.

julie said...

Tearese, this year my boss's ward gave out chocolate bars - it was his wife's idea. :) If I were a mother, I'd definitely prefer chocolate to a plant...or a church booklet/bookmark (what my coworker received).

tearese said...

I've heard the theory that many wards don't give candy because older ladies might be diabetic, and younger ones are probably on a diet. Whatever!

Stacey said...

I have a flower garden but I would love a vegetable ad herb garden for sure!!!