Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lilacs and Other Growing Things

At the risk of disclosing how utterly gardening-challenged I am, I have some information to share:

I didn't miss the lilacs. They are blooming. Now. Oh, my, how glorious.

Today Beloved and I are going to plant her garden. She is known around these parts for her tiny, exquisite city garden, so well known, in fact, that she is on the "wedding circuit." Brides and grooms regularly come by with their photographers during the summer months to have portraits taken against the backdrop of her roses, snapdragons, sweet potato vine, ajuga, geraniums, pansies, and wave petunias. (There's more, but as I've said-- challenged).

Before my mother died she and Beloved became phone buddies. She regularly checked in with Beloved to see how I was-- was I working too hard? Were things peaceful with the ex? Was I happy? For Beloved this contact was warm and a little bittersweet. Her own mother was, shall we say, lacking in the qualities one normally hopes for in a mother (those beginning with basically giving a shit about her children). And here was this concerned, perhaps a tad over-involved mother who was suddenly a part of her life. She ate it up. She came to love her.

Just before the last Mother's Day of Mom's life she called Beloved to ask her what she should give me for Mother's Day. Beloved said, "How about flats of flowers she could plant outside?" And the day before Mother's Day a local florist delivered flats of Gerber daisies, geraniums and impatiens. And for the first time in my life I planted flowers around my house.

Each year since then I have bought flats of flowers and planted them, each time expanding the scope of the project. The first year I planted Mom's flowers in six large pots that I arranged along my driveway. The next year I added pansies which I planted in a strip of earth bordering my lawn, and added pots in front of my house. This year I have purchased snapdragons to border the lawn, plus sweet alyssum and lobelia to go all around my house, and also geraniums and wave petunias for the pots and window boxes.

There is a part of me that approaches all this with trepidation. I am not a good gardener. The attention I pay my lawn and grounds is spotty at best. But in the summer, when the flowers are blooming, I take such pride and joy in them. And this is a gift given me by Beloved and my mom. I probably would not have attempted them had these two women not conspired to give me something that would beautify my surroundings in an ongoing way.

I think in some ways I want to be more like Beloved, who is a natural and joyful gardener. Is this what love is, at least in part? Seeing something you admire and aspire to in the other, and hoping to move closer to that yourself? I don't want an award winning garden, or even brides stopping by. But I do want a home that gives me joy, and which surrounds me with beauty, and for which I can both claim credit and give thanks.


Share Cropper said...

Glad you didn't miss the lilacs!!! And, what a gift on Mother's Day - to look at such beauty.

more cows than people said...

I was just thinking today that I wished I had a bit of gardener in me as I looked at a garden bed we've never planted in our five years in this house, already growing an interesting variety of weeds. I was wondering if I should place an ad for someone with a knack for gardening, but no land on which to garden. I'd love to have a garden on our property- just no skill, no time, no relevant knowledge- and vacationing through a chunk of July/August makes for poor garden maintenance.

I love that your beloved (and your mother) have brought the beauty and gift of flowers to your property. And I love that on this mother's day you'll be planting a garden with your beloved, who loved your mother. Lovely.

I'm also glad to hear that you didn't miss your lilacs, because, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how, given the relatively small distance between us your lilacs could have been SO FAR ahead of ours. Ours are just starting to come out and I've been wondering if they're not really going to this year.... guess I'll know sometime this week.

KJ said...

Gardening has always come easy to me ("Happy soil means happy plants!" is my motto.). But during my evangelical days, I had a nagging sense of guilt about the enjoyment I took in the endeavor and pride in the results.

Then, as I headed into Episcopalian circles, I heard somebody give thanks for the opportunity to be a "co-creator" with God. Worked for me! Guilt absolved.

Enjoy your and Beloved's gardens. And don't forget the happy soil!

We Do It Too said...

oh, i just love snap dragons. i had no idea that beloved and mom did this for you, and it just makes me smile to think about, nor did i know that beloved and mom had a relationship, what a gift. i love it. and i love you. happy mother's day!

Bill said...

Sign up for classes. Check out your local arboretums. Spring is the time for gardening classes. Some years back I took classes at the New York Botanical Gardens in Bronx, NY. They were just one hour nitty gritty classes, but they taught a lot and were fun. It’s something to do with a friend. I once attended a lecture on compost with over 60 people in attendance. They were enthralled, sitting there taking notes. You would have thought they were listening to a dissertation on English lit. or fine arts. They’re usually taught by people in the profession. They know what they’re talking about. I took one class just on pruning and another on grasses and sedges. Sign up, you’ll enjoy it.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Cecilia--my grandfather was a landscape architect, who had a thriving nursery business. To my everlasting chagrin, I can kill a plant merely by looking at it.

But I love flowers with an almost unholy passion! They give me such a sense of pleasure--beauty for beauty's sake, without any "practical" application. Where I live now, there is no room for flowers, but I look forward to that changing. And I'm going to take Bill's suggestion, and hope that my death-dealing "thumb" can be cured.

Cecilia said...

So good to hear from all the gardeners, flower-lovers, and similarly garden-challenged.

Today I put all my plants in the ground and pots; in addition I planted some spring-planting/ summer blooming bulbs (peonies, dahlias and freesias-- three of my absolute favorites). It looks amazing... for my house! And the scent of lilacs is wafting in through the open window. Bliss.

I will definitely check out some classes, what a great suggestion Bill. And kj, I mixed in a whole bunch of fortified soil, to make the dirt happy! Thank you all!

Pax, C.