Wednesday, April 22, 2009


You would think that my rural childhood would have led me to be a terrific gardener, being a daughter of the earth and all. But I am not. I have gone through phases where I wanted to be Mother Nature’s good and faithful servant. However, it takes dedication, commitment, and patience to be a nurturer—and unfortunately, none of those characteristics made it into my shaky repertoire of personality traits.

Over the years, I have had a dozen or so houseplants, and I have killed all but one. The one still living is a spindly, stunted little philodendron in my living room that is rarely watered, never fertilized, and seldom pruned or dead-headed. It’s just one of those plants born with an innate will to live. It doesn’t get bigger—or smaller. It just exists, and I take no credit for its persistent, pathetic life.

My outside plants are even worse. Our house was built next to a former gravel pit. The ersatz soil is nothing more than gravelly, sandy stuff that’s a poor excuse for real dirt. Creating a garden would involve bringing in black dirt—and here’s where my rural mindset comes in. Something inside me rebels against paying for dirt. DIRT, for goodness sakes. It would be like paying for AIR or RAIN! So I struggle with the available soil and cheer for any little plants that actually survive in my yard.

Over the years, I’ve resorted to becoming a “pot” farmer (no, I don’t grow marijuana). Every May, without any expectations whatsoever, I sigh and plant geraniums and marigolds in flower pots on the deck. It’s not that I like geraniums and marigolds so much; it’s that they are the only flowers I’ve found that can withstand my absent-minded, sporadic attention and don’t die under my care.

I have only one success story when it comes to growing anything: my day lilies on the east side of the garage. Several years ago, my master-gardening, green-thumbed younger sister was thinning out day lilies in her Garden-of-Eden back yard. She gave me some day lilies to take home and plant. I remember wondering how long it would take me to kill them—one growing season or two. But, knock on wood, they are actually still living, several years later. Yesterday, I was cleaning out all the old stalks and autumn leaves from last fall, and I found new green shoots coming up. I wept with relief. It means that I am not a total loser; I don’t kill everything that I touch. The day lilies are proof that my agricultural roots are still there—maimed, stunted, and semi-dormant, but still there.

Proof of Plant Life in My Yard

No comments: