Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bloom time

I have a black thumb. I promise. Used to be I couldn't keep a houseplant alive to save my life. I even almost killed the "impossible to kill" plant my mother-in-law gave me when we got married. It was a cutting from her plant which had started as a cutting from her mother's plant when she got married some thirty-odd years prior to that. Oh, it was one I couldn't kill but almost did. I'm happy to say it's alive and well now and I'm determined to keep it's legacy going.

So I got better at paying attention to the plants around me with that same self-determination that allowed me to teach myself to knit, crochet, cook, bake, not kill some important things and learn to grow others. It helped that I landed on an old farm with it's rich black soil and so many long-lived plantings all around. Despite my ineptitude at gardening they just kept on growing or coming back every year if I did something wrong or the dog trampled them to death.

It was that forgiveness if you will that alleviated my fear of planting, growing and possibly killing what I put in the ground. I learned that not every dead plant was my fault and that plants are some of the most forgiving living things you can involve yourself with. All you have to do is pay a little attention to what they need and respond accordingly.

I'm no perfect gardener still, mind you. I've given up on competing with my Martha Stewart-esque mother-in-law who lives next door and my other neighbor who is a horticulturalist/landscape architect whose work is pictured every few years in Southern Living Magazine (you think I'm joking but I'm not). I'm clearly outdone. My yard, to quote my husband, "Has bits of beauty in it but then it looks like napalm went off every so often." He's referring to the deep chasms dug by the dog and her propensity toward making beds in my lilies. I just laugh and keep on planting, realizing that not everything is in my control, really hardly anything is.

All I know is I'm usually surprised by the garden. Depending on the weather, where I put things and how much attention I pay them, some things have their best year ever. This year goes to the clematis, that no matter which direction you look at it from,

is just one big cascade of purple goodness.

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