|Daisies in my front yard.|
The never-ending circle of seasons continues and once again it is gardening time. Out of town for the month of April, I could not get a head start. I sometimes plant seeds indoors, but was not around to tend the seedlings this year. It was a cold and miserable April, so I do not feel guilty being late getting outside, down and dirty in my patch of earth.
I have mixed feelings about gardening, accomplishment and frustration intermingled. I do not have a green thumb, but it is not black either. Success comes in fits and starts. I begin the season buying annuals at Produce Junction, a regional outlet selling fruits and vegetables year-round and plants seasonally. The store offers the cheapest prices around. I therefore do not feel really, really guilty when some of the young plants die. Which always happens.
We have a small patch of land. No grass. The front encompasses a couple of trees and bushes of various sizes. The past couple of years I filled in with perennials, and scatter annuals in the bare spots.
One of my problems is the inability to recognize new plants peeking out of the soil and plain old weeds sneaking in and choking desired new growth. Some weeds have become familiar enemies. I see them, pull them, hopefully root and all, but more appear, sticking their evil shoots out of the ground the very next day. They often hide before being discovered, shielded by bushes and new growth.
But each year there are fewer and smaller empty patches.
We have a small strawberry patch thanks to previous owners of our home.
Hopefully the small green berries will be big, beautiful and red soon -
and survive lurking animals (especially one particular troublesome squirrel).
Experimentation with a variety of flowering plants resigned me to the fact that marigolds are by far the hardiest in my patch of dirt. I no longer waste money on other flowers, realizing they will not survive and thrive. I settle for different colored marigolds.
I purchase a small number of other annuals that catch my fancy, planting containers. The plants thrive for a while, then wither and die when I am out of town, unable to water them when, of course, it does not rain. Like I plan trips during dry spells.
There is a positive effect of gardening never anticipated. People say walking a dog invites conversation with neighbors and strangers on the street.
Gardening does the same thing.
My backyard is small, a patio, deck and small vegetable patch. Most gardening time is spent in the front of my house.
Neighbors unseen for months and sometimes previously unknown appear outdoors as the weather warms. People walk their dog, stroll past on their way to the drugstore a couple of blocks away, and pass by on their daily hike. They stop and admire my handiwork (I like to think, but more likely are shaking their head in dismay at my eclectic garden), and conversation ensues. Nice weather, cute dog, where do you live, full-time or part-time resident, have you tried the new restaurant down the street…
That is perhaps the best part of gardening. Meeting and greeting neighbors, discussing the goings-on in our town, watching kids playing in the street, old and young riding by on bicycles, cars slowly passing, breathing fresh air (unless the city water or sewer system breaks down).
Observing our neighborhood wake up and revive after a long, cold winter.
And planting splashes of color to perk up a gray landscape just beginning to blossom.