“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps.” - Amos Bronson Alcott
Mr. Clark and I just finished planting our garden and boy, did we sleep good. Few things are as fulfilling as spending the day digging in the dirt and at the end of it, surveying a garden patch full of new plants, as yet un-sprouted seeds and some freshly spread compost; that is some of life’s most pure hope.
Short of a newborn baby, a brand new high school graduate or a pair of newlyweds, there’s nothing quite so hope-filled as a freshly planted garden. It’s just a wonderful sight.
This year, Mr. Clark and I compromised on our ongoing seed vs. plants debate by doing some of both. Our agreement was that since Mr. Clark is the seed guy, he will tend to and appropriately thin the seeds – a task which I hate. In exchange, I got to buy some plants that normally he would’ve made me start from seed and just put them in the ground and watch them flourish. We’re both pretty excited about the garden – actually gardens — this year.
You see, in addition to our usual garden, which has been too shady for years, but also got the big-nursery-borne-lethal-fungal-blight that rampaged through the country last year, Mr. Clark dug a whole new garden plot in a sunnier, we hope never to be blight-rampaged part of the yard. Initially I wasn’t so excited about that – two sets of hoses to drag around, two gardens to weed, two areas to keep the dogs and squirrels and moles out of. Why do we want that?
But, as usual, Mr. Clark’s cheery outlook and innate optimism won out.
“The peppers, basil and zinnias did fine in the old garden last year,” he said, wiping the sweat off his brow as he fervently tilled the soil in the new garden. “But I want tomatoes and squash, beans and peas, and a few greens – none of those survived in the blight garden last year. That’s why I’m digging this new plot.”
And doubling our work, I thought, but, he’s right. What’s the point of gardening if there’s no vine-ripened tomatoes in the deal? So two garden plots we now have.
We went to the store to get our plants and seeds Sunday – which was Easter Sunday — and I felt a little weird about that, like shouldn’t we be doing something more spiritual? But we were not alone; the aisles were full of enthusiastic shoppers, some in church clothes, others not, all visibly excited about the work ahead.
Something I notice about garden shop shoppers is that they all seem really happy – way happier than people shopping for Christmas presents or shoes or cars or other things. The married couples engage in animated discussions about their plans, while obviously skilled and well-read gardeners debate various types of hybrids and plant breeds.
Mothers (or fathers) and daughters (or kids) laugh and joke as they explore the plant-filled aisles. And there are always the single shoppers, usually older, in deep concentration, intent on finishing their personal landscape with a new set of plant miracles this year.
The garden shop of any store is a vibrant, spirited, creativity-laden place this time of year and I’ve always had in the back of my mind that at some point I’d kind of like working there.
I got my love of gardening from both of my grandmothers – one a farmer’s wife, the other a skilled city gardener. I remember experiencing from a young age the wonder they felt as they led me through their gardens, showing me their new trial or well-established and flourishing plants.
My one Gramma’s farm always smelled of red and white petunias in the summer, while my other Gramma’s rock garden was an ever changing experiment in new types of plants.
My love of playing in the dirt continued as a young mother, trying to landscape starter home after bigger-but-still-starter home on an always too tight budget. I remember wondering why my friend Brenda (also a young mother from Connecticut) tried year after year to get Hostas to thrive in (my home state) Colorado’s arid dry soil, only to understand once we moved to Georgia and my lilacs and columbines consistently failed in this hot, red, always too moist soil.
“Bloom where you’re planted” is a slogan I have kept posted in my home for years and isn’t that the task? To be content, honest and aware of who and where we are at any stage of life? Gardening is more than just putting plants in the ground; it’s an affirmation of hope and life and, if we are to succeed, a statement of where we are.
What better day than Easter Sunday to once again experience those things?
Now, if only the new garden doesn’t get the blight.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.