I come from people who find solace when shaping the earth. My father farmed for many years. When he gave up farming, his garden grew greener and larger. My mother grew flowers and carved fish ponds. She created outdoor living areas complete with seating, scenery and often an abundance of butterflies. Both of my brothers show this trait (or combined with their spouses, they do) of merging living space with nature so that the living space of their homes spill effortlessly out into their yards. My sister, as well, brings her yard indoors to an attached greenhouse on her home. It is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places I know.
This gene... this skill... seems to have missed me completely. I've lived six years in a house that I selected for it's roomy/empty three lots and have managed one small strawberry bed (I can't even take credit for that, it is my daughter's) and the addition of some hen and chicks and chocolate mint to the sadly managed flower garden that already existed just in front of the porch when we moved in. We had a fish pond for one summer that I filled in after discovering that the abundance of garter snakes were happily feeding on my fish.
With all this outdoor space, my preferred spot remains at the kitchen table, my back to the window or sometimes perched at a folding table in the living room. When I want to read, I will more often curl up in my bed with a book, even when the weather is perfect for being outdoors. Bringing the outdoors in, for me, entails opening up the windows and letting a box fan draw in a bit of fresh air for half a day once or twice in the springtime and maybe another couple of times in the fall.
My successful growing efforts currently include two very sad geraniums, a plant my son brought home that I do not know the name of, an amaryllis that my son once got for a present and a handful of plants at the office for which my husband probably deserves more credit for keeping alive than do I. I don't even want to admit to the number of fresh herb plants I have tried to grow and successfully neglected to the point of no return in the past couple of years.
Since my son's attention has wandered through and past growing things for the time being, I find myself trying to come to terms with the fact that mine is a lawn that will probably always just be mowed. Permaculture and the various methods of low-maintenance gardening I've looked into over the years, for all the potential benefits, still require that at least a modicum of sustained, hands-on interest follow the reading about, planning for, and daydreaming that I tend to excel at where shaping my own soil is concerned.
Late last week I had the opportunity to tour Arnold's Greenhouse, a gorgeous farm near here that has become a popular destination for hardcore gardeners. I was immediately inspired, and then almost as immediately began to feel a bit down and depressed. As much as I would love to have my mother's outdoor sitting areas, my father's food-producing gardens, and my the stamina, like my siblings, for ongoing efforts that result in places homey and green, I'm thinking it might be time for me to put away the to-do list that has to do with yard improvement.
My creative efforts are more successfully spent elsewhere. As much as I'd love to have a lovely yard, I guess I don't want it badly enough to make it happen... at least, for the time being.
|This rose is a sort of antique, faded shade of pink. I'm not usually a fan of pink, but I liked this a lot. If I were to grow roses, this is a color I might choose. (photo from Arnold's Greenhouse, near LeRoy, KS)|