My family used to always plant a garden.
It was out behind our house, next to where our barn is. It wasn’t a huge garden, but it was enough to keep us entertained for the spring. My aunt Rhoda and uncle Verlin would come out one day in early spring, and bring a whole bunch of seeds with them. There were the staples that we planted every year: cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes. One time we tried eggplants… they looked pretty, but were gross. I was glad we didn’t plant them again.
Corn seeds were my favorite; they were all shiny and pink and pretty and looked like beads that belonged on necklaces.
One time, in the second grade I was in a play about the parable where a farmer goes out and sows seeds… you know, the one where one seed lands on rocky soil, and another one lands on good soil? I landed on rocky soil, and I wore a hot pink dress because I wanted to be a corn seed. My mom tried to get me to wear a different dress… I don’t think she understood my reasoning.
Anyway, we would commit one day to planting the garden. My uncle Verlin would sit in a lawn chair and tell us how deep the holes for certain seeds needed to be, and how far apart. My dad would dig the hole, and then aunt Rhoda, my mom, me, and Tyler would go down the rows and drop the little seeds in.
Then, the waiting would begin, and the daily trips out to the garden to see what wonderful new things were poking their heads out of the ground. It was always exciting when Mom would say something like, “Lacey, Tyler, go to the garden and pick me two cucumbers!”
Then we would run out to the garden and choose the best, ripest looking vegetables and haul them in. It was bad when she only told us to pick one, because we couldn’t settle on who got to do the actual picking.
One year, I decided that I needed my own growing things to tend to. I asked my mom if I could plant a flowerbed, and she said yes. She assigned me a little strip of ground next to our patio, and we went to the lawn & garden store and I picked out flowers. I picked out impatiens, which were tiny and pretty and came in different colors. I picked out something called dusty miller, which looked like alien lettuce that had been lightly dusted with powdered sugar. And I picked out something called heather, which was a small plant with lots of little green leaves and tiny purple flowers.
We carted all of my flowers home and I carefully and tediously dug little holes for them and then planted them. And then I watered them, and waited for them to start growing.
It did not take long for my impatiens to to die. Instead of growing bigger and brighter and more colorful, they grew smaller and duller and their petals started falling off.
The dusty miller held on like a trooper, though; it stood there, straight and tall and proud, being all sugary and strong.
The heather, though… oh man, the heather! When my mom and I bought it, we did not realize that it was actually a foreign life form that was disguised as a small, innocent purple flower. Really, it was biding it’s time at that store, waiting for someone to take it home and plant it so that it could suck all the nutrients out of the ground and take over the world.
It grew, and grew, and grew…. a real-life version of a Rumor Weed, if we are honest. It is what killed the impatiens, I believe. And, after a fair amount of time, it even choked out my proud, strong dusty miller plants. It grew over the edge of our porch and wrapped itself around the porch swing and tried to knock down our house.
After a couple of months of this, my mom rallied the troops and made me go to war with her. We took shovels and hoes and hacked our way through the heather, uprooting it and throwing it in a wheelbarrow and dumping it far away, never to be seen again.
What we learned, though, was that heather roots run deep, and it wasn’t until a few years later when we added on to our house and built my parent’s bedroom on top oft hat spot that the heather truly left our lives.
A couple years after the failed flower garden, I read a story about a girl who walked through an old field with only socks on. Then, she planted the socks in a flower pot, and lots of weird flowers and plants grew from the stuff stuck to her socks.
I was wearing socks, I had a flower pot, and there was an old field behind my house. And so, I set to work.
Things did not stick to my socks as easily as they did to the socks of the girl in the story, though. In frustration, I ended up pulling seeds off of plants and forcing them to stick to my socks. I wrapped vines around my feet, stomped through the yard, and stuffed the whole mess into my flower pot. I then added some potting soil, some water, and proudly perched the project on my windowsill… and once again, I started waiting. I waited for weeks and weeks… and nothing grew. Finally, I dumped the whole thing out, disappointed with my infertile socks.
After that, I discovered that we had a small rose bush growing in our backyard. I asked my mom if I could have it. She said yes. So I adopted it, and began to pour myself out for the good of this rose bush, lavishing TLC all over it in the form of water, extra soil, and compliments.
I suppose the fact that it had grown and flourished quite fine WITHOUT me should have clued me in that it did not NEED help… and, unfortunately, I believe my loving attentiveness is what finally caused it’s demise.
All that to say, I do not have a green thumb, exactly. And so, when I got a box in my CPO a few weeks ago that was labeled “open immediately!” and I discovered that it contained plants, I was quite excited… but also quite fearful for the welfare of these helpless little tulip bulbs.
My wonderful fiance, who knows better than anyone how to make my day, had had a little red tin full of tulip bulbs and soil sent to me! I love tulips, a lot. And I REALLY like red ones. And some of these are supposed to be red!
In my excitement, I pulled the red tin out of the box. I looked at the plants, and sighed. They didn’t seem to appreciate living in a box. They were all tiny and shriveled and yellow and sad looking.
Oh well, I thought… maybe some TLC will do me good. And so, careful to not OVER-love them (remember the roses!), I set about watering them and opening my window shade every morning so that the sun could reach them.
To my excitement, within two days, they were green.
Within three, they were straight.
Within four, they were getting taller.
This morning, though, as I was getting ready for the day, I noticed an odd color on the top of my tallest, straightest plant. I moved closer and saw an odd shape on top of it.
“OH NO,” I gasped. “My tulip has a tumor, and now it’s going to die!”
Upon further inspection, though, I discovered something amazing.
The color was pink, and the shape was that of a still-closed, very tiny tulip. My tulips are starting to bloom!
So much excitement rushed through me, I let out a cry that made my roommate think I was having a stroke or something.
So… when my tulip decides to fully emerge and show itself, I will post a picture. Aren’t you excited? I AM!