I like to play in the dirt, to feel it sifting through my hands, to turn it over with a shovel and see the rich black loam waiting to shelter, nurture and feed some seed until it turns into something more than it is at the moment. However, I’m a haphazard gardener at best, and I’ve been known to save a weed because it has blooms on it when my best efforts to plant a flower seed and watch it grow into a beautiful flower failed. I figured Mother Nature knows best, and she knows what will thrive in my yard when I do not.
I might have been around 6 or 7 years old when I had my first gardening experience. When I asked my mother if I could have my own garden, we had no budget to work with. My mother didn’t say no though. We took some paper bags and lined them with plastic sacks. We packed a spade and a trowel in the trunk of the car. We headed for the woods. This was no hardship for my mother. She would have lived in the woods if she could have talked dad into it.
Here, in the cool dank undergrowth of the forest, my mother revealed to me the verdant mysteries of horticulture, tiny plants, blooming prolifically, that seemingly thrive on their own, wild beauty in this blanket of rotting leaves and bark.
She called them by names like: bachelor’s breeches, blue violets, yellow violets, wild ferns, jack-in-the pulpits, white stars, yellow wood sorrel, wild strawberries, spring beauties, and bluebells. We took shovel and trowel, made a nest of dirt in the bottom of our paper bags inside our plastic bags, and transplanted a variety of these blooming specimens to take home and plant in our backyard.
This was my first lesson in horticulture. Because our yard was shady, the majority of them thrived and multiplied. To this day, I will not throw a violet on the mulch pile. If it’s not in the best place, I’ll just dig it up and move it a few inches. My garden is not the manicured garden you’ll see in a Master garden, and has a rather random look, but that’s me and I like it.
My dad has these gorgeous orange poppies that grow so thick and dense, there’s no need to even weed them, along the sidewalk by the back door. I’ve tried to transplant those poppies at least a dozen times, with no success. Yet, a seed packet of Bachelor Buttons my youngest son brought home one year for Mother’s Day, I randomly sprinkled around a maple tree in the front yard, and years later they still voluntarily replant themselves each fall and grow prolifically every spring.
Yesterday, my dad brought me a bucket of daffodils. It’s not the prime time to replant daffodils. However, my dad must have a thousand of them, and he’s replanted them every spring right after they get done blooming for years. So yesterday, I used some lawn edging to mark a straight line down the outside edge of my hosta border, and replanted a bucket full of daffodils at our new house.
My first domesticated columbine just appeared in my lawn about 6 years ago. The leaves were interesting, and so I dug the plant up and transplanted it inside the border of one of my flower gardens. It eventually bloomed with these delicate mauve flowers on it. So when we moved I transplanted it to this house as well. I now have dozens of columbines, again reinforcing my theory that if it thrives on its own in my yard, it’ll thrive if I try to cultivate it too.
How my mulch pile wound up on the north border of my driveway is something only my husband knows. However, once I realized how quickly things break down, I always have fresh dirt to feed my tomato garden now which borders my front porch, blended into the tulips, naked ladies, and Queen Anne’s Lace that do well there.
I’m going to try planting a couple of cucumber vines on a trellis I picked up at the local discount store this spring. This is an expansion on a theme from last summer. Because I planted the tomatoes and Naked Ladies side by side, (my first attempt to grow food) and they did quite well, I’m going to continue the theme this summer and build on it. Not your conventional way to lay out a garden, but they all grew and I had tomatoes for salads last summer.
Okay, I’m a wannabee gardener, but it’s working for me, and I love doing it. Do I have any “wannabee gardener” company out there?