I’ve discovered in the past few years (after many seasons overseas interspersed with busy and demanding stints in the states), that I like gardening. I’m not obsessive or a competition gardener. I know the names of many of the flowers and flowering shrubs that went into the ground but some whose names I forgot minutes after I purchased them. I didn’t care. I bought them because I thought they were pretty and, if hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies liked them then so much the better.
The garden is a mishmash. And interspersed among the perennials I look forward to seeing rise anew each spring are wildflowers and other seed mixes that will produce unexpected delights into the autumn. It’s crazy and wild and not carefully tended but it is nonetheless nurtured with affection that, as time goes by, may blossom into love.
I enjoy, I find, putting my hands in dirt. Digging… preparing the soil… removing old growth if needed. There is a richness even in our less than stellar soil. Insects and earthworms. Life in abundance.
This year I’ve been antsy to do something in the garden. I think that as we confront the challenges of COVID-19 and the tragic losses it has brought, the sense of renewal that comes with spring seems even more important this year. I’m eager to be dealing with planting, nurturing, and witnessing the rebirth of the garden.
So, on Easter Sunday, on the way back from the grocery store, we also stopped at the Garden Center. Not for long… and we WERE masked and gloved. But we grabbed some of what we needed and yesterday, again masked and gloved, we got the rest… including king-sized (and very heavy) bags of organic soil.
New soil was spread yesterday in the back garden we created two summers back. It’s where the lemongrass, mint, basil, parsley, and cilantro grow these days… along one leg of the L-shaped patch. Those plants are now in the ground… strikingly green against the black soil that has been added to the garden. The other long leg of the L is awash in seeds… wildflower seeds… for pollinators… a mad mix from which the strong will flourish then we’ll be surprised to see a more delicate bloom push its way through in any event.
More seeds were spread across the top of the yard where butterfly bushes and the new (from last year) peony are promising to flower early, and where the honeysuckle is already out of control, and where the wild grasses are coming back as other flowering plants are also coming to life. The rhubarb, now in its fourth year, was transplanted from it’s huge pot to the garden as well. Dill seeds were sown in one corner… can we really attract swallowtail butterflies as they claim? The catmint is coming back along with other hummingbird attractors.
The white bleeding heart is flowering and has grown like crazy while the red flowering plant is making a comeback to )even though overzealous weeders from the lawn service had, we thought, murdered it last year).
Pots and planters are filled with marigolds and impatiens and pansies and more. Color is back. It’s good. More seeds were sown in other pots hoping for more flowers… and cilantro. Rosemary and basil are growing with the chives on the deck.
Even inside the plants have all been tended. The orchids are blooming, the Swedish Ivy (a clipping originally came from a plant in President Obama’s Oval Office), the shamrocks are huge and my grandma’s snake plant and it’s descendants are growing like crazy…as are the various Christmas and Easter cacti.
And, finally, today I replaced the prayer flags. It seemed the right day to do it. As I celebrate the start of another year — this is 67— and Nepal starts another year — 2077 — what better way to mark the new beginning than with fresh prayer flags.
It was a lot of work yesterday and today to help kickstart the garden’s annual rebirth. My back is a bit sore and it was tiring. But it was worth it. It felt right. Especially under the circumstances. It felt necessary.
It was good.