“My Fear of Plants’
For Mother’s Day every year, my friend Shannon received from her three children three beautiful flowering baskets, for which they paid around $60.00 a piece. And every year by the middle of June, Shannon had, from either tons of love or tons of neglect, killed each one. (the baskets/not the children) She confided in me, that it was a dilemma every summer about just how long she had to keep the, shall we say, remains. Although the plants needed tossed into the trash (or compost pile for you serious earth lovers) it made her feel like a bad mother to murder and throw away her babies’ presents.
And I had similar scenarios. I cringed in fear when Elliot and Evan were in second grade and brought home from school the terrariums they made from 2 liter Pepsi bottles, ferns & mosses from the front yard. Mix in that encased soil a lot of imagination: a lot of dreams of jungles: a lot of exotic vegetation wishes, and you see my dilemma.
I was also afraid when my grandmother gave me plants from her yard to plant in mine. “WHAT IF THEY DIE” I admitted. Mawmaw never understood my fear of planting. She told me that I could always get more plants: that the world was full of plants, but something in me tied my self esteem to how well the plants thrived. (I had issues.)
A particular question haunted me. I asked myself over and over “What if I am a bad gardener?” and with that query, I quit trying. For years, when you asked me if I wanted a cutting, sprout or sprig from your “mother plant” I said “No thank you; I’ll only kill it.” But then last year on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I watched a gardening program (you know the channel) where the master gardener was asked about plant watering; HER ANSWER FREED ME!!
She said, “I water twice a week: Mondays & Thursday. If a plant can’t live on that schedule, it dies.”
It was the first time that someone had not been ashamed of killing plants. She was almost cruel and I LOVED it. It was then that I did like the rest of America and placed the blame on someone besides myself. I decided that it wasn’t my fault. It was the plants; they were to blame.
I took old cross ties (actually my husband took old cross ties for me) and made a flower bed on the north side of the house in front of the porch. I used clay soil because clay was what I had piled up in the back from when we dug our basement. I used a Gardenia plant I had tortured in a pot on the carport that a neighbor gave me as payment for feeding her cat while she was on vacation. And Larry from across the street, had three months earlier thinned out his Cannas and had given me a heap of them that I had been storing under the big oak in the front yard in a wheel barrow. I just walked by every few days with the garden hose and sprayed them. Amazingly, the Cannas actually seemed to thrive in the rusty water. (You must know that I am not proud of this; I am simply stating the facts of the planting.) Leslie and I made a Home Depot trip and bought 12 Periwinkles, 6 Begonias and 8 bags of Pine bark mulch.
We planted without hesitation or fear. There was a lot of digging, patting and watering, but no anxiety. No Fear.
In the past 3 months the Periwinkles and the Cannas bloomed continuously, as did the Gardenia. The Gardenia has grown so large that I am pondering rooting some cuttings from her and decorating with her babies other spots of the yard or giving them away as gifts. (I’m growing bravery.) On a sad note, we lost the Begonias. Apparently Begonias don’t like to keep their feet wet and the mulched clay holds water. An experienced gardener might right here, tell me how to fix my “drainage problem”, but I think I’ll just put plants there that don’t mind staying wet.
My grandmother would be proud.
Here is a photo of the bed. Yes, it is a real event and place! (My bird bath is a little crooked but the dogs don't mind.)