Of tears and rain and moving on.

Five summers ago my garden consisted of a couple of small unkempt beds containing mainly ditch lilies, trash, and noxious weeds. Most of what you see began as endless stretches of mown grass and dandelions with a few disconnected trees and shrubs plunked in random places around the lawn.

I started creating this garden during the heatwave of July 2011, precisely the day after my mother died in my arms in a lonely hospital room in the middle of the night. Her death was dutifully recorded in obituaries as peaceful. It was not. I can’t describe the depth of my relief when her face and her emaciated body relaxed, finally free of pain.

This was not the first brutally painful blow during a relatively short period of time, nor the last. A cliche it may be, but since I started the garden I have watered bare dirt with tears and a landscape of beauty has emerged. Not just outside my door, but also inside my life. I consider myself blessed.

I’m moving on soon, into the next and best phase of my life. I’ll take the gifts these years have brought me and leave what I no longer need behind.

And that’s where the metaphor ends. Gardens may be ephemeral, but I am not.

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.

Why Did My Plant Die?

You walked too close.
You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.

You hoed it down.
You weeded it.

You planted it the wrong way up.

You grew it in a yogurt cup
But you forgot to make a hole;

The soggy compost took its toll.

September storm.
November drought.

It heaved in March, the roots popped out.

You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal far and wide.

Attracting local omnivores,

Who ate your plant and stayed for more.

You left it baking in the sun

While you departed at a run

To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,

Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.
You planted it with crown too high;

The soil washed off, that explains why.

Too high pH.
It hated lime.

Alas it needs a gentler clime.

You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.

You broke the roots.
They’re not elastic.

You walked too close.
You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You splashed the plant with mower oil.

You should do something to your soil.
Too rich. Too poor.
Such wretched tilth.

Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth.

Your plant was eaten by a slug.

The growing point contained a bug.

These aphids are controlled by ants,

Who milk the juice, it kills the plants.

In early spring your garden’s mud.

You walked around!
That’s not much good.
With heat and light you hurried it.

You worried it.
You buried it.

The poor plant missed the mountain air:

No heat, no summer muggs up there.
You overfed it 10-10-10.
Forgot to water it again.

You hit it sharply with the hose.

You used a can without a rose.

Perhaps you sprinkled from above.

You should have talked to it with love.

The nursery mailed it without roots.

You killed it with those gardening boots.

You walked too close.
You trod on it.

You dropped a piece of sod on it.

Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

You’ll find it in a garden

Watch this wonderful video describing how permaculture turned around a barren, salt-poisoned plot of land in Jordan near the Dead Sea: “Greening the Desert“.

This man makes one of the wisest statements I’ve heard in a long time…

“You can solve all the problems of the world in a garden.”

Amen to that.

Happy Easter.

The only flowers that count today

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae, 1915


Garden Quotes

There is life in the ground: When it is stirred up, it goes into the man who stirs it.
author unknown

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. 
James Oppenheim

He who plants a garden, Plants happiness. 
Chinese Proverb

The nature of This Flower is to bloom.   
Alice Walker

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.   
John Muir

Advice on dandelions: If you can’t beat them, eat them.   
Dr James Duke