I was a avid gardener, but time and years have caught up to me. But this time of year, I mentally make all sorts of wild plans for the yard that will never happen. I can’t handle the high heat and humidity; it scrambles my brains in probably less than twenty minutes. Not just a little, a lot, and with every year, it seems to get worse. As far as I’m concerned, I like my brains way too much to jeopardize them by staying in the sun until I’m confused. So I avoid it.
Garden at night when the sun is setting? I’ve been known to do some of that, but I’m not so sure my neighbors like me being out there at the late hours running the weed whacker, even if it is electric. And by then the mosquitoes have decided that I am the all-you-can-eat feast. So I just sort of avoid the garden. I feel as though I’ve lost a good friend.
Houseplants? I have a cat. I don’t want to poison him and that eliminates quite a few popular, and forgiving houseplants. And being I’m living in this old money pit with leaky old windows, I tend to drop the drapes in the winter to keep out the cold, and in the summer, to keep out the sun’s heat. That means very low light. And where there is light, there’s a big fat cat sprawled in the sunbeams. So who gets the sun, the cat or the plant?
A friend gave me cuttings of an ivy-like plant that I knew was not poisonous and loved low light. Its variegated leaves almost shimmer as they reflect light. Since I used to be able to get anything to grow, this was a great way for me fill my house with greenery. I bought several pretty planters, filled them with potting soil, added some extra ingredients that I knew these little cuttings would love, and waited to see them sprout new leaves and grow into luxurious plants. I even bought little terracotta watering vials that would leach water to these young, newly starting plants.
I was still working then. Each night, I’d come home and look into the planters, hoping for signs of new growth. I saw dead leaves. It was not a reason to panic. Just snip off the old leaf while the plant roots and creates a new shoot. Three weeks and still nothing. I poke around in the soil and discover most of the tiny cuttings seem to be gone. Why? Where did they go?
Then one day, I discovered the problem. The cat has decided the moist dirt is a wonderfully comfortable place to sleep. I put rocks in the pot. I find them on the floor. I moved all the cuttings that remained from the seven matching planters to two of the smallest ones. I moved those away from where the cat could get to them and it was insufficient light for sprouting. I gave up. The cat won.
Now I have a few containers outside to hold plants. I have a shepherd’s hook and I tend to grow lettuce in those baskets. This year I might add a couple of miniature tomato plants and I’m thinking about growing a cucumber vine, if it will climb some strung cord. At least I can still have a fresh salad.
My front porch boasts two hanging baskets. Several varieties of flowers do well in them as the play of light and shade is perfect. But the wrens love those hanging baskets, too, and it can make watering the plants a feat as I don’t want to drown the baby birds and it really upsets mama bird. Most of the time, I can handle the wrens but not when the doves nest in the hanging baskets.
So as the catalogs roll in and the stores have enticing racks filled with seeds, I dream of luscious landscapes with beautiful plants to create awe-inspiring vignettes of gardening serenity. Each corner of the yard could be its own private nook, as paths and waves of color entice me to visit. Out comes the paper and colored pencils as my imaginary gardens take on a new look. Butterflies and dragonflies flit about while ladybugs add tiny bits of color to the palette. Goldfinches and chickadee’s nibble on seed heads collected and put in decorative feeders while hummingbirds and bumblebees dip into throated flowers.
Ah, the plans I make. For a little while, my heart soars and I can almost smell the earthy fragrance of flowers, mulch, and rich dirt. The gardener in me will never die.