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A gardener’s sensibilities

River of Stones: day 30

I have spent some time looking over my old gardens, remembering the little borders, the climbing vines and the fat stubby carrots. I am still mystified by so much. But, I am buying new seeds and starting from scratch. I am not digging up and transplanting anything from where I live now. I had hoped to relocate my irises and a few lillies, but the early freezing winter has likely eliminated that option. I bought a cassia tree at a fall art festival and it sits in its black nursery bucket out in my garage looking forlorn. Whether it makes it to the new yard is uncertain. I will accept from my sister’s yard hearty, untameable monkey grass that has bordered my whole life, descendants from monkey shipped to Miami from my Granny’s house in Mobile. Monkey grass has been dug up and moved to every location anyone in my family has every lived. Its lushness delineates our family genealogy. I will also get a dozen or so crepe myrtles from her yard that have never thrived under the granddaddy oak canopy but will pop on my sun drenched lot.  I already own a purple leaf maple that the local garden center holds until I can provide irrigation. I also have a few lovely house plants that will relocate to my porch and patio. But I am not digging up any of the old root stock and taking it to my new location. I have a clear 3.5 acres to till and plant. My first seed packets came in the mail on Friday.

Broken fences can be fixed with a hammer and effort. Soil can be amended with tilling and adding new nutrients. A bruise will fade with mere time. A fractured bone regrows with a proper cast and a period of immobilization. Time and specific acts can restore things. While a heart attack can leave a scar and a heart that functions below capacity, it doesn’t have to be lethal. A stroke can leave irreversible damage, costing one their speech or their ability to walk, but doesn’t cause death.

But people are not fences and unlike a skinned knee,  relationships do not heal themselves.

Sometimes we amputate people because their presence in our life is dangerous; they strike us with fists or words. Sometimes it is a constant barrage of criticism and feelings of inadequacy that causes a split. Sometimes it is betrayal or damaged pride. Sometimes, a connection ends because it has reached it’s limit, like a root-bound house plant, the connection constricts and strangulates. The only choices are to move to a bigger pot or accept a withering death that no amount of water or sunshine will counteract.

But I have a gardener’s heart and sensibilities. And I desire a life filled with connections to other people as varied and abundant as I envision my garden. I know now that you don’t plant wheat in the desert or sugar cane in Ohio. Once upon a time, I was young and foolish and believed all I needed was a watering can and a sunny window sill. A healthy plant must have its proper place and its proper care. Some plants thrive in rocky dirt with blazing sun and barely any water. But now, I don’t expect a rose to thrive in the desert. I have to create an acceptable environment for those hot house flowers and plants I wish to cultivate. Or….I have to leave the heirlooms to my memories, a reminiscence of a long lost sweetheart rose that bloomed beautifully but died from drought or fire. But if there is root stock left, with effort and care, so much can be restored. Time, the turn of a few seasons and a patient heart can bring something once shriveled back to lushness.

But I accept when somethings are lost. I understand that I won’t have a knack to grow all things. I may find that after years of trying to grow a persnickety variety of cultivar, that there is an easier, heartier variety. And while I may have spent years stubbornly motivated to get the tricky plant to thrive….believing that maybe THIS season I will get it right, testing a new combination of variables……I am not a failed gardener if I simply stop replanting the finicky variety.

You have to select the right plants for your zone, banning invasive species and exotics. If you live in a swamp but want a cactus, then vacation in the desert and take a bunch of pictures……or move there. But don’t think you can grow cacti in a bog. And don’t label yourself a failure because every cactus you plant shrivels up and rots.

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