Sunday, July 4, 2010

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~ Emma Goldman

I planted some of these in my flowerbeds along the west side of the house this weekend. Icelandic poppies in bright orange and yellow. Between the lavender bushes just coming on to vibrant purple bloom, the huge dwarf fuchsia, delicate lilies, and the scarlet sage...well, to say it's rather colorful is putting it mildly! I'd had some columbine and Jupiter's Beard planted in the area where I put the poppies but I noticed they were looking pretty bleached-out and forlorn...time to give the soil a huge dose of steer poop and some new color! That's what I love about flower get tired of something, you rip it up and start fresh. I also put out poles for the green beans to start twining up...they're looking especially green and healthy. The tomato plants have tons of blossoms and itty-bitty tomatoes growing on them. The zucchini and cucumber plants are bushing out and looking good, too. Can't wait 'til I can start harvesting fresh veggies!!

There is something so satisfying about gardening. It was something I never appreciated until I was well in to my 30s. As a kid, any yard work we did was enforced labor dictated by our dad. It usually took place on one day each summer...usually the hottest day...when he'd go outside armed with a shovel and start digging plants and weeds and tossing them every which way. My brothers and I would pile it all on to the wheelbarrow, where it would eventually end up unceremoniously dumped in a corner of the back yard. Then, it was left up to Mother Nature as to what she could reclaim from his horticultural assault! But in my 30s, when my beloved Aunt Gin was diagnosed with colon cancer in her later 70s, I began cleaning her home once a week. When the summer months came on she asked me if I'd help tend the garden and her yard which were absolutely beautiful. I told her I didn't know much but if she'd guide me I'd do what I could. So spending time in the yard also became a part of my weekly routine. I don't think a bug of any type ever dared to enter her yard. Her roses were gorgeous...her vegetables to die for. She was always so generous in sharing all of her bounty. And as she instructed me I learned to love it, too. But in those years we were renters...Dear Hubby mowed the grass and that was the extent of our yard work. Then the opportunity came up to begin buying the house. But darling Aunt Gin had passed away. We mowed for a few more years. And then I was contacted by a family in my church to see if I'd be willing to help their elderly mother a few days a week, a 96-year-old lady who was still able to live independently but who needed help with housework and shopping and going to the hairdresser's. I agreed to it and spent the next 2 1/2 years being a companion to one of the most delightful human beings I've ever had the privilege to know. And the first summer with her she asked if I'd be willing to plant her flower boxes and help care for a couple of hanging fuchsias she had on her front porch. Again, I told her I didn't know much about gardening but she just pooh-pooh'ed me and told me, "It's easy!" And she proceeded to pass on her knowledge to me.

I started in on our yard. Our house was built in 1912 and in the many years it had been a rental it had been sorely neglected, allowed to grow weeds and grass back to the foundation. A couple of ugly evergreen shrubs were the only decoration out front. Oh, how I could kick myself for not taking Before-and-After photos, and photos of progress thru the years!! It took a couple of years just to dig out all the flowerbeds I wanted. The soil was so poor and nutrient-starved it took multiple bags of steer poop and mulch to build it up where it could support any life. And at first I planted annuals, only to realize it was money wasted every year. So I began planting perennials, especially more old-fashioned perennials to fit in with the age of our Craftsman bungalow. And now, these many years later, it's lovely. It's peaceful. A haven for birds and bumblebees. Wind chimes tinkle. Birds bathe in the bird bath. If you sit out on the back porch it's private and quiet with only the sound of the wind whispering thru the huge trees that border our back yard.

It's been hard work. Back-breaking work.

But it's been a labor of love.


Betty said...

Your labor of love sounds lovely. How about you show us some "after" pics at least? :)
You know me, I always want a picture. Maybe you could stand in it too.... haha
Happy 4th Kris!!

Liz said...

Just catching up on posts.

Sounds like you're doing fine - but in need of rest!

And your flower gardening sounds much more successful than mine!

Rob-bear said...

For the first time in my life, I've actually dedicated my self to growing a vegetable garden.

It is hard work; fortunately, I have a micro-garden, so I can handle it.

I'm just in the process of blogging about the latest adventure

Anita said...

I would love to see some pictures too. I do not have a green thumb at all. I hate the FL heat working in the yard. If it needs much pampering it will die here, sorry it's true.

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said..., please!
Take care,
Mommy 2

Eva Gallant said...

We had a huge garden when I was a kid. I hated working in it. I tried gardening (veggies) as a yong mother and found I still hated it. I admire anyone who enjoys it.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You've expressed very well how rewarding gardening can be. I love my perennials (with a few annuals in planters for accents), and I'm working up the courage to do a few veggies. I'm also interested in your story of being a companion to a lady in your community. You have a lot of experience helping and caring for people!