Friday, May 24, 2013

Gardening Insecurities and Triumphs

I've really never considered myself much of a gardener.  Maybe it's because I have my mother (whose weeds look like this) and sisters (one who forgets about her Southern California garden for a few weeks to find this, and one who can grow gorgeous plants inside her townhouse and even get them to bloom year after year [sorry I couldn't find the pic on her blog]) to compare myself to... yeah, they'll probably blush when they read that, but they are very talented.  Maybe I didn't think I could do it because the first few gardens I ever attempted to grow failed miserably and I couldn't even get daffodils to grow... Maybe it's just because I hate pulling weeds or because I've always had life get in the way and I've just lost confidence in myself... Maybe it's because our phoenix tree never rose from the ashes and I had to watch forlornly as my neighbor yanked it up by the roots with his bare hands this spring (earning himself a steak dinner because I bet him he couldn't do it... yeah, I'm kind of an idiot.  We built with him.  I've seen him carry 2 32 foot long I joists by himself... duh...) Anyway.  Whatever the reason, I've just thought I didn't quite possess the gene.

Last Fall, after we had set the sod and planted the trees and had a bunch of empty flower beds to fill, I went on the prowl for plants.  I just wanted things that would survive our alkaline, rock-studded-clay, and salty soil, in the shade by the fence and up against the house--a pretty tall order, I know.  But, my mom, grandma, and even my uncle and some friends were very generous in giving us starts of lots of plants.  You might even remember some of it and all the awesome things we found to plant.  We put them in last year, battled back some weeds, and prayed that even part of it would survive.  One thing we planted was some rhubarb from my Grandma's garden, which was pretty shriveled and sad looking when we put it in, and never looked alive at all through the remainder of the fall.  I was certain I had killed it.  We'd chopped the crowns into smaller pieces before planting, and I thought I'd just done it in.  The black-eyed Susans as well; they looked downright miserable after planting.  I had some hope for the daisies, but I was unsure about the hosta even though my mom insisted it was very resilient.  It just looked sick to me.  We even planted a big red-twig dogwood bush that had outgrown its place at my mom's house, but it took so much effort and root-hacking to get it out of the ground that a few days after I transplanted it, it lost its leaves and I was certain it was doomed to be a nice pile of sticks for us to admire. I hoped beyond hope something, anything, would survive the winter and renew my gardening faith in myself.

Winter came... cold and harsh.  I knew the tender perennials would be dead.  I have some hydrangea that I was unsure about, and our oak trees never fully lost their leaves--a bad sign.  In March it finally thawed enough for us to meander through the yard again.  Cody got to work building the raised beds and we brought in soil.  Since we had so much of the beautiful sandy loam to work with, we put it all over the flower beds that were still housing all those starts, burying many of them several inches deep.  All I could think of was, "Well, at least it was fun to plant, and the next round will be healthier because it has better soil now."

The last couple of months have felt like Christmas morning every time I go outside.  A leaf!  There's a leaf!  I can't believe it, a green leaf!!!  Oh my goodness, the trees have buds on them!  Well, except for the phoenix tree, that one doesn't.  But the dogwood does!  Look, look, a green patch of grass!  Amazing!  I think all of our daisies pulled through, can you believe it?  And look, I think, I think that might be a black-eyed Susan coming up.  Oh, and the ice plant and rock plant are greening up... and spreading!  They're spreading fast!  Look now, I think one of the raspberry starts is getting leaves on it, it's actually growing!  You're right, Lee, there IS a flower on the strawberries, that's incredible!  Quick, get the root stimulator, let's put our tomatoes in the ground!  The oak trees are leafing out and they look phenomenal!  Oh my heck, the hosta, it is poking up through all that dirt and unfurling.  Gorgeous!  And even... can you believe it... the hydrangea!  Just barely, but it has leaves on it; it survived!  Let's harvest the lettuce and radishes, wow they taste great!  Anna, yes you can have another helping of raw spinach straight from the garden without any dressing!  And today: I harvested my rhubarb!  From MY garden!  From my salty, alkaline, rock-studded-clay yard!  It grew and is huge and beautiful! 
First harvest of OUR rhubarb

Katie by the quakies and the pumpkin patch--already growing

Peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach

My herb box: basil, rosemary, parsley, chives

Cody's ice plant, each individual plant having tripled in size this year

The Canby Raspberries, leafing out
Our ward split last week and the Relief Society presidency of our new ward came by my house to meet me.  For the first time ever, when they asked me what my hobbies were, I said, "music, food and cooking, and gardening." 


Laurie Fifield said...

Man, I'll be asking Cody for Ice plant since the deer ate mine. Your garden is lovely, and in a lot of ways better than mine.

Granny D Fifield said...

Master gardener! No more insecurities! You've made it. We want to come see it and talk about your worms

Laurie Fifield said...

Come sometime and dig some Foxglove from my garden - and more Columbine!

Sara said...

I think we all have insecurities. Yeah, our hibiscus keeps blooming, but we've nearly killed it several times. Sometimes you just get a good plant. :) You're awesome!