Monday, April 14, 2008


While I wish for springs warm and hope filled days, I spend a little bit of time checking out my flower beds - watching for signs of life of course, and avoiding critters of any kind. (spiders, rolly polly bugs, centipedes, and nests of bunnies all curled up in fur and dry dead grass)

I love the smell of the soil. It's different scents of rotting remainders from last years plantings and of the bits of sprouts from this seasons promises.

I love to poke around in my little beds and see if I can get anything to "take". I went to some gardening web sites, and was appalled at my lack of knowledge regarding all that is green. (for those who know me well, I love green, always have, it's my signature color.)

Most of what I like to plant, is like a scrapbook of remembrances. I never really realized it until we "lost" the peonies.

I always wanted to grow peonies. My mother had a row of peonies in the back section of our back yard where we had lived when I was four. I remember vividly hearing my mother talking about the peonies, which were bushy, and came up to my knees...our dog, Rudy, peed on them. I got it! Pee-o-knees. My little mind put it all together! We transplanted some a few years ago into our backyard, but I think we planted them too deep, in an area that was too moist. Got nothing.
I loved to hear "the ladies" talk about flowers in their gardens.
My mother, used to plant four o'clocks. When she wanted to collect the seeds for next year's batch, she would give me a baggie, and send me out to pop and collect the black seeds, which were hard, and of a good size for 4 year old fingers to pluck from the seed pocket. It always seemed to be afternoon when she sent me out to do this task, so I assumed it was 4 o'clock. That's how one told time.
My aunt, my mother's sister, grew all kinds of delights. She favored me, and in the summer when I spent the weekend at her house, we'd water her flowers. She'd tell me the names of the different kinds of plants and flowers (mostly because I bugged her to do so!) and let me pick a bunch or two for a vase inside the house. This was very, very dramatic for me. I dreamed of wealthy homes, with vases full of bouquets of fresh flowers. I picked a neat floral bouquet from her hillside, which was a weed called the snot flower. It was pretty, with it's blue bell shaped flower, but it's stalk had a lovely, mucous like substance that stuck like snot in sinewy strands to your hands and ran down your arms. Cool.
They wilted in a vase.
She also grew raspberries. The best raspberries ever! They produced twice a year, and were called ever bearing. Although prickly, there was nothing that could beat the taste of sun warmed berries plucked right from the vine to your mouth. They melted away. I have a few starts of her vines, although among them was a wonderful vibrant plant, that grew amazingly stronger with each application of Miracle grow I gave to it. It outshone all the other starts I got out of her garden. About five days later, and hours of itchy fun, I realized I was cultivating a wonderful healthy patch of poison ivy. After my husband plucked it out of the ground, the raspberries did grow. And we enjoy them Spring through Frost!
When I was all of seven, we lived in Colorado at the time, a neighbor lady had a huge flower bed of snap dragons. She spent many a day listening to me putter around on the other side of the chain link fencing that separated our backyards. So kind of her I realize now, she often popped the flower head off one of the snap dragons and pinching the end, it became a little puppet. I was delighted with those! And they had cool seeds too. When the little heads were finished, they became a seed pod that when you squished it, produced thousands of tiny black seeds. Smaller than those of a pansy.
Pansies were another favorite, along with moss roses. Another neighbor lady when I was around nine had beds of both, and would give me a white envelope and ask me to gather the seeds. Each were as thrilling! Popping the seed pocket of the Pansie and plucking the cap off the moss rose, to find a hidden treasure of life's promise of renewal.
(I guess I had a thing with seeds)
Does anybody remember Balsams? They are tall, fragrant stalks of flowers, with the neatest seed pods. The pods resembled that of a milk weed plant except only about 1/2 an inch in length. When they were ripe for harvesting, you could press the fuzzy pod, and all the sides would pop and curl up like a banana peel. Delight!
Come to think of it, it's not spring so much that I anticipate, but the harvest of Fall that I love so much!
The generosity of the time that the neighbor ladies, my aunt, my mom spent in sharing little bits of gardening with me was precious and thoughtful. I passed that on in my little girls, my step-daughter and my granddaughter who loved to help me plant the seeds and gather them in the fall. It's funny how every living thing that blooms holds a special memory for me. Does it to you?
This spring, plant something that does. Nurture it and watch it grow, and then collect the seeds. Hopefully each year, you'll get enjoyment from the familiarity of it.

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