Sunday, May 24, 2009

Notes from the Garden

I’m in the midst of my spring gardening frenzy. I’ve been working in the garden for three straight days. Yesterday I planted flowers—perennials and annuals (begonias, salvia, lavender, lilies, chrysanthemum, and pretty purple spiky flowers I can’t remember the names of.)
Today I shoveled 5 yards of mulch (well, my husband and I did). Now I’m nearly incapacitated. Everything aches, and the skin on my hands feels like it’s going to crack after all the vigorous scrubbing it took to remove the embedded dirt. To make things extra special I’m welcoming my annual case of poison ivy. I never know where it comes from but I get it EVERY YEAR! I practically have to sit on my hands to keep from scratching. That makes it difficult to type.
My ambition always outstrips my stamina. Buy two flats, get one free, well, I’ll just have to find a place to put 24 salmon-pink begonias. Wouldn’t it be great to have a flower border all the way down the driveway? If this bed was wider, I could fit some iris and day lilies in the back. Cutting garden, anyone? Did you know you can buy 100 bulbs for $25 if you order in the spring? (The bulb people know that by fall my enthusiasm and my energy will have waned.) Midway through the flats or the 100 bulbs, I’ll be shaking my head, saying, “Never again!” (Until next year.)
What if I did hard manual labor for a living? What if I had to dig ditches or plow acreage or wrestle boxes around instead of flopping into a chair and hitting the power button? What if I got so dirty on the job every day it required a power washer to get clean? What if I depended on my garden or farm for food (more than a few baskets of tomatoes, peppers and fresh basil).
What if I felt this crappy Every Single Night?
I have the luxury of being a romantic when it comes to gardening. When I was growing up, my grandfather always had a huge vegetable garden behind the garage. A former coal miner and Depression-era survivor, he would plant his onions on St. Patrick’s Day, even though he always said he hated the Irish. Although my grandparents lived in the city, and he worked in a factory, my grandmother canned tomatoes and green beans and peaches and pickles and sauerkraut and they had a cellar full of potatoes and onions.
After my grandmother died, my grandfather remarried and moved away from his garden. “You must be sorry to leave it behind,” I said to him. He looked at me as if I was out of my mind. “I hate gardening,” he said. “I’ve always hated it.”

1 comment:

Nora MacFarlane said...

From a fellow glutton-for-punishment gardener: I say the same thing every year. Then mid-June comes, and my middle-aged body has recovered from the shock of hard labor. I joyfully admire how beautiful it all looks. I get a kick out of the wildlife that visits - hummingbirds, woodpeckers, butterflies. I don't mind the squirrels that eat my strawberries (at least, not too much). My neighbors (we are all garden-a-holics), pat each other on the back, share stories, give tips, and joke about how we're never doing it again. But we always do!