Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feeling the Love While Gardening

I do like the flowers. I never had a big vegetable garden, but always tomatoes.

Today, I picked my first five cherry tomatoes. Not big ones, but ripe red. I see some more tomatoes on the other big bush. The other two plants are putting out blooms, and I am in a quandary. I should pinch and let the plants grow. But who knows when Mother Nature will suddenly turn up the furnace and it is so hot they won't produce?

This year, it is anyone's guess here in North Central Texas. The drought locally is at end, but cities are wisely keeping some conservation measures in place. It can happen again anytime.

The dogs love to be out when I am watering and pulling weeds. This week, they were taking turns at "chase" I have a utility shed, about 3 feet from the back fence. Brody was in the lead, with Gracie chasing. He tore around the back. She wheeled around to meet him in front when he came around. He wasn't expecting her and leaped over to avoid a collision. They tore around again.

And I stood there, watering my plants with the hose, and just belly-laughed.For the heck of it--you know how it is--I shook a snake of hose water at them as they raced by, and laughed harder. They sped up. I didn't think it was possible.

Finally they collapsed on the deck after a long slurp of water, just grinning at me.

Even before the dogs, I never gardened alone. I often remember my granddaddy taking me out to HIS garden and teaching a five year old how good it is to pick a green onion, skin it back, pinch off the root and eat it right there in the sun. He was from Tennessee and had green onions twice a day, trimmed and  in a short glass tumbler Nana filled for us all. He taught me about eating sun-ripe tomatoes still warm in the sun and eating them, too. So he is with me.

My father had me plant a patch of radishes because they grow fast, but I didn't LOVE radishes. He shoulda given me my own tomato. I don't know. I just remember how happy gardening made him, He had 50 rose bushes that bloomed and bloomed, peach and apricot trees, and a jujube tree. He had a whole garden for iris, and bush honeysuckle and a bush called Spanish--I need to remember. It was unusal, with virtually no leaves, and yellow flowers that smelled heavenly. He planted grapes, and baby's breath, and pansies, and violets that were huge and likewise beautiful. Pansies and columbine for Mother who loved them so. He planted about a half acre in vegetables, with several rows of green chiles.

I planted white impatiens under the Bradford pear because Catherine Gunn, a wonderful older friend, advised a white garden in the summers, in the heat, because the white and green was cooling to the eye, and she was right.

The advice of so many friends with me now, and my wonderful daughter-in-law, whose thumb is green, have played through my head. And I remember the Mother's Day when my oldest son had been living on his own for just a while, and he got this deal on some petunias, and I got up that morning to find my whole porch covered with flats of petunias. I'm sorry to say they didn't all get planted, but--the delight. I will always remember it, feel it.

This is no giant undertaking--an 8X8 raised bed, some squash outside, the flowers and plants in the already established front gardens, which are small.

I have high hopes for the two Knockout roses--deep pink,in my case--develped by Texas A&M University. A rose shrub, it is impervious to most disease and insects. The two bushes should get about four feet tall, four feet wide and four feet deep. They bloom from early spring through December and are mostly evergreen. My two are growing and blooming. Next year, they will be focus plants, the third year showoffs in my yard. They are among a series of roses Texas
A&M has developed, again for their resistence to disease and insects. They are all low maintenance. Roses. Really. They aren't my beloved tea roses, though, and I will have to plant a few of those.

When I garden, I really notice the birdsong, the sound of the leaves, the smells of dirt, grass and herbs, enjoy being in the real world for a bit. And all those memories in my head keep me company.

I still go to the gym. I need the predictable discipline. I really don't mind it, fortunately.

The  garden, though. Well, you know. You probably garden too, or you wouldn't have read this far.

This year, there is the special joy of doing it for the first time in many years. And knowing I will be doing it least, that's my goal.

I hope I have enough to give away. That will be riches indeed.

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