You know, growing up I hated gardening. Mostly because it was one of those Saturday morning things that my dad drafted me to help with. Seriously, there are so many other things an 11-year-old could be doing with her time—like reading, or playing a computer game, or eating a snack, or sleeping… simply a plethora of excitement there. At any rate my ideal weekend did not include pulling green things from brown stuff. I didn’t even know what green things I was supposed to be pulling. What’s the difference when none of them have flowers?
So I could use my youthful strength to get rid of whatever plants my dad told me to pull, but I never had the slightest notion why I should pull them, or how to identify the unwanted plants in case I had to do it by myself someday. Other than dandelions—those I know about. Everything else looks about like a flower to me. I call them by their colors and by the relative size of their bloom, often tagging on an endearing adjective as well. “Oh look at that cute little pink flower!” Except if it’s a daffodil or rose, I guess. I know those flowers too.
As you can see, my gardening expertise is limited to identifying daffodils, roses and dandelions. I’m on my way to a Ph.D. in horticulture!
When I was growing up, our house had all those flowers surrounding it, and more which I, of course, am incapable of naming. The porch attached to my new apartment was flanked by precisely two plants: grass and weeds. I know the non-grassy plants are weeds because the leaves (petals?) look like dandelion leaves. All told, the plants are short, ugly and not very colorful. My poor porch looks barren without some sort of landscaping around it. There weren’t even any bushes around my part of the apartments.
I resolved to overcome my early deficiency in gardening education and plant something. I wasn’t too particular about what I would plant: My three requirements were that the flowering plants be pretty, perennial and almost impossible to kill. (I have little faith in the greenness of my thumb.) A friend of mine donated about a dozen iris bulbs to the Sarah’s Apartment Looks Ugly foundation, bulbs taken out of her own fabulous garden when she was splitting the irises. My experienced gardener-friend told me how far down to plant them and what to do with the leaves after I got the bulbs in the ground, so all I had to do was track down a trowel.
Mom and Dad loaned me a threesome of trowel, fork-thing and bent-fork-thing. (I’m as familiar with gardening implements as with flowers.) The fork-thing was marvelous for turning up the ground and getting rid of the myriad pebbles hidden in the earth. I never figured out what to do with the bent-fork-think so I just let it lay there in the grass until I finished planting the irises. Those irises, spaced according to a random distance spawned out of my mind’s ignorance, finally made a pleasant filler for the back row of my budding garden.
Well, pleasant in my mind’s eye. Right now they look like a bunch of six-inch-tall, cut-off flower petals. The present effect is like that of a row of straw brooms, sans handles, planted upside-down in the dirt.
Someday I will add more flowers, daffodils if I can find some in my parents’ yard that they’ll be willing to part with. And I think I’ll line the side of the porch with mint. It grows like a weed so it has to be about as impossible to kill. Very important, you understand. My parents have already offered me half their mint, since it’s overrunning their front lawn. We’ve yet to uproot any for transplant to my fledgling garden.
I told my editor about my newfound gardening urges. Now she says she has several daylilies and things that she needs to get rid of, and will give them to me in a plastic bag. She once kept them in a plastic bag for three weeks before planting and they still grew. They’re impossible to kill, she says.
I certainly hope so. I’d hate to be responsible for the death of so many living things.