Monday, April 29, 2013

The Inevitability of Things

I was never serious about gardening in my earlier years. My mom was always in the garden, and neighbors frequently asked her for gardening advice. She was a member of the local garden club. She was a child of my grandfather's hog farm, where they grew quite a lot and helped other farmers with their crops. For those reasons alone, of course, I was meant as a teen to reject gardening until I could mature a bit and get over thinking that my parents only participated in ridiculous activities.

It's strange to think about my early childhood now as an adult, with those defiant adolescent years in between. The early years fade into the background at times, but I have very fond memories of working in my grandparents' back garden (after they had sold their farm and moved into town). I loved the days when my brother and I could climb the cherry trees to get the fruit that no one could reach with the ladders. And I loved pitting those cherries. We did it together, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents. Picking and snapping beans on grandma and grandpa's patio was another great favorite. But becoming a teenager has a powerful way of setting us on a strange road, away from who we are. I remember proudly proclaiming in those awkward years that I was a city girl who had no interest in farm life. I didn't like getting my hands dirty. I curled my upper lip at the mere mention of gardening. I'm sure I deployed more than a few eye rolls, accompanied by an "Oh, brother!" or two to illustrate how ridiculous it seemed to me. And now at 40, I often daydream of owning four acres (or even just two), keeping a substantial veg plot and some chickens, and leaving space for a lovely flower garden. Eventually, it seems, we all come home.

So here I am, a gardener, a grower of flowers and food, marveling at everything that happens in my own nature preserve. The weeping peach tree last week continued carefully and selectively putting on flowers, dotting them here and there among the great new flush of leaves.

Peach tree blossom in the morning

Don't they make a lovely pair?

My Mexican sage is still putting on a show, three years after I brought it home. Every time it gets a little leggy, I cut it hard back, and it always rewards me. In fact, when I cut the longest branches, I always find, tucked away in the middle of the plant, a whole new clump of fresh growth. The flowers are so fuzzy and beautiful. I like to run my hands over them.

Love the fuzzy flowers of Mexican sage

Right next door to the sage is my Kew Red Lavender. I will forever be in love with this plant. It makes for a sea of silver and magenta, and the texture just adds to the visual appeal.

Another bloom about to burst open

This week I also have what I consider to be a miraculous photo. Lizards are a part of my garden. I even talk to them. They keep me company while I'm working. They are so varied in appearance, and some of them seem to claim specific areas of the garden as their home. Turfman especially loves one he calls "Stumpy," who is devoid of a tail and lives in the vegetable garden. I love the ebony lizard that lives in the secret garden and is often sitting on the bunny's head (it's a sculpture). I've never really seen them do much of anything besides chase each other, stop and do their push-ups, or puff their red dewlaps on their throats. On Saturday afternoon, though, I saw a lizard on the pool enclosure screen who had a mouthful of bug. I had never seen them eat before. He proudly posed for the camera as I congratulated him on his catch.

A magical moment

It was probably inevitable that I would become a gardener. Thanks to the influence of my grandparents, my mom, and Henry David Thoreau (via Walden), the garden--and the food, flowers, and creatures in it--consumes most of my thoughts, and I couldn't be more grateful to them.

This week brings preparations for what I'm calling "The Great Bean Seed Planting Event" in the veg garden. Summer is our curtailed growing season, where we're really limited to growing eggplant, peppers, cantaloupe, and beans (and a few other items). That's exactly what I intend to do. My goal is to get a bean yield large enough to save for the winter. And just wait till you see to what lengths I'll go to get as much food out of my "farm" as I can. It's going to be a fun week, and I can't wait to show you next Monday!


  1. Great post! Looking forward to seeing how your summer garden turns out. I must ask, do you have any suggestions for growing cantaloup? I've had very little success here in FL growing broad leaf plants like them. The humidity seems to rot them so quickly. What's your secret??? :)

  2. Oh, Kerry. I haven't grown cantaloupe here yet, so we'll see how it goes. It's taken me the whole 3 years I've lived here to screw up the courage to do it! So I'll let you know how it goes...

  3. Courage... without courageous gardeners nothing would grow here in Florida! Yes, let me know how it goes! I'll do the same for you as I try new things:)... growing a pumpkin in Florida is on my bucket list, lol. I've tried two seasons in a row with no success, but I'm not giving up...I'll plant them again this August:)