Lighthearted Secret Confessions of a Fair-weather Gardener

By Amy

Deciding to write this for any curious passer-by reader is proving to be something of a cathartic and resolving experience similar to a support group meeting. Hello, my name is Amy and I am a fair-weather gardener.

I wasn’t always this way. As I think back, I was exposed to gardening in it’s various forms growing up. I am not talking about the standard grade-school experience of germinating a Lima bean between wet napkins. My grandmother, mother, and uncle always like to grow things that they could use in the kitchen. Then, not too long after the start of our relationship, Eugin and I took a whirlwind tour of hydroponic gardening (we have since then firmly decided that soil is the way to go). We read about it, we watched videos about it, and we sat up all night pondering about what we read and watched. It was a successful experience and still think back wistfully to those times.

Then, Eugin decided that it was time to pursue his longtime curiosity is bonsai. Albeit, we started off with the novelty potted bonsai plants found our your local garden center, we quickly realized that they are exactly that. A novelty. So again, we became self pronounced scholars and read about, watched videos about it, and pondered what we read and watched. Although the season wasn’t right for starting bonsai plants, we couldn’t contain the excitement and took the plunge and purchased normal full sized plants that we would nurture into bonsai. While Eugin opted for the trees that provided a more masculine profile such as maples and junipers, I decided to go for a blooming Azalea. We visited many stores and considered many Azaleas before I decided on “the one”. When we found her, we brought her home along with a car trunk full of goodies for starting her out. With much excitement I transplanted Zany ‘Zaley and because it was coming into the dormant season (Fall) tried to stay as patient as I could and did only minimal trimming and wiring. October, November, December, Fall, Winter…. then finally Spring came. We had waited so long for this special season! While life around us started booming (my allergies can vouch for that), I waited with hidden anxiety everyday hoping that when Eugin and I came home from work that a tiny sprig of green would come busting through the brown. Weeks passed, still nothing. Eugin suggested that we just wait a bit longer, that my Azalea was just off to a slow start. We finally decided that while fearful of the result, we should snip a branch to see if the Azalea was still alive. Sadly, the Azalea didn’t wake from the dormant season.

Since then, my involvement in gardening with Eugin has become supplementary and passive. I enjoyed watching the development of the plants we did have, but I couldn’t bring myself to become fully engaged. I couldn’t help but be saddened that Eugin’s Azalea (that he bought at a later time) had started to thrive. Slowly and surely, although maybe not intentionally, Eugin has brought me back into the world of the gardening. Eugin would bring in chili peppers for me while I was preparing dinner, started to grow tomatoes, and has purchased herbs as a lovely addition to our garden. He allowed for me to select the herbs that I use the most and would like to use more. As my mother and uncle and their mother before them have, I have opted to garden plants that I can use in the kitchen. Oh, but we couldn’t keep ourselves from purchasing Catnip or Cat Mint for Calvin and Hobbes as a fresh source of “feel-good” for them. I hope not to be disheartened in the future if ever there is a plant or crop that does not do to well in the future. But if, there is, I think I know how to get over it. Plant more. We have only now started to grow certain crops that I know that I can always use, but would love to incorporate more fresh produce into our diets.

For anyone who has suggestions, I would greatly appreciate any advice on other crops that I can look into gardening. I may be a little shy deciding what to grow, but with some encouraging stories from others I hope to become more bold! Thank you!

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