Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Garden

I was watering my newly planted garden this evening when the spiral hose became entangled in a beautiful pink and purple coleus and snapped the plant off at the base. I'm sure the neighbors heard me scream the f-word as I looked down and watched the decapitation. Another setback?

This was among the second set of plants that I'd put down in this little space in the last four weeks. The first batch of celosias and marigolds had sustained mysterious leaf damage and withered up and died before the credit card bill came in the mail. It's one thing to digest a lovely dinner three weeks before paying the bill but writing a check for dead plants is a painful reminder of failure.

Friends had described gardening as creative therapy, so I had finally carved out a little space in the back yard to get a feel for the experience. In my green striped gardening gloves and terra cotta toned rubber clogs, I dug a meandering trench around the bare ground and embedded large granite pavers to form a rustic border. I had shopped for plants, paying special attention to light and water requirements. On a hot Saturday afternoon, I got down on my knees and dug into the hard ground and amended the soil and artfully placed each plant, keeping in mind its final height and width.

Yes, I was a gardener. I watered regularly. Quite frequently I went outside to sit on the garden bench and just look at my plants. But the morning that I woke up and found that every marigold and celosia leaf had been stripped from its stem, several of those good feelings died, as well. Since the lavendar and the short bushy looking thing with yellow flowers had survived, I decided that gardening was really about growth...about I found myself back in the garden center at Lowe's, studying the binomial system of nomenclature which provides plants with two Latin names- "genus" and "species"- thankful to the folks that make labels for people like me who just need to know shade or sun.

I replanted, redug, rewatered, and renewed my faith in the mystery of mother nature. I hired the neighbor boy to water the plants when we left town for a week. When I returned, I found that the hydrangeas had suffered in the 100+ heat and the hibiscus lost a few leaves but the coleus had survived beautifully. Not only had they survived, they had thrived. Tonight, my careless tugging on the hose had done more damage than the heat or mysterious leaf munchers.

I put the lopped off coleus in a jar of water and am hoping that it will re-root. And when it does, I will try again to find the balance, to restore the serenity of my own private garden. Because I AM a gardener.

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