Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Unlikely Gardener

Those of you who know me well know that I don't have a green thumb. It's more like a black thumb, since any plant I touch suffers a certain, rapid death.

I have never been able to understand this. I am an intelligent, determined person, and almost anything I really want to do, I can at least become proficient at. But so far, gardening has eluded me.

Even my littlest kids know I am famous for this. Which is why, when they saw me plant a few things in our still-sparse yard this week, they actually mourned the plants in advance. "Why do you want to kill those nice plants, mom?!"

This insult is added to injury because both my mother and mother-in-law are talented gardeners, who can grow pretty much anything (although both specialize in spectacular roses). So the kids like to throw in helpful comments like, "Why don't you just let grandma do that, because she won't kill them." Thanks, kids.

At any rate, I have been taken down with a case of spring planting fever and am, once again, trying my hand at gardening. I, who couldn't even successfully plant in fertile Northern California, am attempting to create Eden in the High Desert, a place where even the best gardeners have trouble thanks to our extreme hots and colds, high winds and sandy soil. I am doomed to fail, yet I am enthusiastically trying again.

Why? Because I love to see green when I look outside, and there isn't a lot of that here naturally. Because if I can nurture six children, shouldn't I be able to keep a few plants alive? Because anything that beats me down only makes me more determined to succeed.

I am not flying blindly. When we planned the hardscape for our dirt lot over a year ago, our landscape designer threw in a planting plan that included plants suited for our desert climate. So, today I began executing that plan by planting Purple Fountain Grasses, Daylilies, Rosemary and Roses. Tomorrow I will attempt to find and plant a California Glory Flannelbush, some Blue Oat Grasses, some Honeysuckle, some Lion's Tail and a Foxtail Agave. We have a very large planting perimeter so I have begun with a 16 x 3 foot section to see how it goes. If I am even marginally successful I will extend that area on both sides until I have completed the plan.

I am mostly buying from Lowes who has a one year guarantee on all plants, and you can bet I'm saving those receipts. I will likely be needing them.


Annie Bizzi said...

Sounds beautiful and somewhat poetic...keep up the planting and don't forget to envoke the assistance of Saint Fiacre, patron saint of gardening!

Tina said...

I might be able to give you some hope. I used to have a very black thumb. My mother would give me plants in the hope that one day I would figure out how to keep them alive. My inside plants fair better than my outside plants. I have somehow been able to keep a particular plant alive indoors for the past 10 years now. Which is a record for me. Others have not lasted longer than a month or so.

The key to my outside plants is to choose wisely. The rosemary is hearty and thankfully doesn't need tending to; I only have to cut it back each year. All of my flowers have died except for the two tiny yellow rose bushes that want so badly to die but are still holding on. What I am trying to say is that there is hope. I don't kill everything anymore, just some.