I am a biologist, so you might think that I would be a good gardener. I do love to watch living things grow—from my daughter to trees and flowers and vegetables. However, I have the dubious distinction of having killed an “air plant”, a chia pet and one-third of a lucky bamboo plant. (I’m not sure what the karmic consequences of the last one will be.)
I planted my first garden as a young girl in Georgia. Watermelons. One plant survived and produced a small fruit, which was promptly eaten by my Shetland pony, Carrot.
During my first week of college I wrote an essay for my English composition class about how my dorm room became filled with life and comfort when I added several house plants. The plants were all dead by the end of the semester, but the professor was so impressed with the essay, she read it aloud to the class.
In graduate school, I had a little patch of dirt outside my apartment. I planted rose bushes. The elderly lady in the next-door apartment, didn’t like to see plants suffer under the Georgia sun, so she watered my roses and fed them when she thought that I wasn’t looking. The end result was a rose bush with at 3-inch diameter trunk that had climbed up to the roof of the two story apartment building by the time I finished graduate school. I have no idea what that sweet little old lady was feeding my roses, and I probably don’t want to know.
When I became a college biology professor, one of my colleagues, who is a master gardener, talked me into starting my own little plot of vegetables and herbs. She helped me dig the garden, plan the layout and start the plants. At the end of the summer she pronounced my garden the most “ecologically diverse” vegetable garden she had ever seen. Really though, it wasn’t that diverse, there were only three or four species of weeds among the vegetables.
When my husband and I first moved to Milton and began digging garden beds in our new yard, my father-in-law brought bags of iris bulbs from his garden and his mother’s garden—heritage bulbs that I will always treasure. Wisely, he didn’t just leave me with the bags of bulbs, he started digging and planting the bulbs that same day. And, I’m pleased to say that every year since, the irises have been the stars of my garden.
This fall I bought some flower bulbs as part of a school fund raiser. When the bulbs arrived in the mail, I went to work immediately planting showy tulips, lilies, and three other things that I can’t remember. I have watched my flower beds with excitement and genuine wonder, as I wonder about the mystery plants that are now poking the first tentative leaves through the soil.
I was thrilled when I saw the first red-orange bloom on my showy, albeit short, tulip plants a few days ago. I called to my daughter who was outside with me.
“Come see the beautiful flower in Momma’s garden!”
She ran over toward the flower bed and stopped about 20 feet short of the tulip patch.
“OOOh. Pretty yellow flower!” she exclaimed as she bent over a dandelion.
© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All Rights Reserved.