I have never been a gardener.
This makes me feel like a misfit in my family. My mother is a wonderful gardener. She had an enormous vegetable garden in the suburbs before it became fashionable to do so. Her mother was also an avid gardener. She escaped the demands of 11 children by spending time with her flowers. There are photos of my grandma in her garden and she looks as if she is having a wonderful time, but I figure any activity that would allow you to escape the demands of cooking for 13 people three times a day would be a welcome relief.
My sister is also an amazing gardener. She has flowerbeds everywhere and a raspberry patch that produces three gallons of berries a day. She is always expanding gardens and digging things up and putting new things in. Her entire yard is beautifully landscaped and all I can think is that it looks like an awful lot of work.
I am a bad gardener.
My attempts at gardening have never been successful. One year, I planted flowers I thought would do well, and they did so well I created an impenetrable jungle. I had flowers as tall as me. I couldn’t get in to weed, and after a while, I stopped trying. The next year I tore it all up and mulched it. Mulching is not gardening.
The next year, I planted rose bushes. The deer ate every rosebud as soon as it appeared. Then I planted peonies. They wilted in the sun. I planted lupines in a place I thought would be perfect for them. They never bloomed. Whatever sort of green thumb my mother and grandmother and sister have seems to have missed me entirely.
Only recently have I had the courage to admit the truth: I don’t like gardening.
I was sure that if I just worked a bit harder, all the pleasant feelings everyone seems to have about gardening would magically land on me. But I’ve realized that I just don’t enjoy gardening. It feels like work to me, and not work I enjoy. So when my husband, Peter, and I bought the new condominium, one of my first thoughts was, “Now I don’t have to feel guilty about not gardening!”
I left my rakes and shovels and gardening gloves behind, and I was delighted to be moving to a place where the only outdoor space I had was a balcony. Gardening was the furthest thing from my mind when a funny thing happened.
I wanted to plant something.
Arriving in the midsummer, there wasn’t a lot of selection. But I found some plant hangers and pots and six different kinds of plants and I repotted them and made attractive groupings until I had eight pots hanging in a row on the balcony, filled with brightly colored foliage. They are out there now, waving in the breeze. They have already grown since I put them out last weekend. I call them my “balcony babies,” and those eight pots are giving me more satisfaction than anything I’ve ever planted.
“The balcony is beautiful!” Peter said last night. I believe it’s the first compliment I’ve ever gotten on my gardening efforts. And finally, I feel at peace.
I do have an inner gardener after all.
She just works in a smaller medium than the giant gardens my mother and grandmother had or the sprawling flowerbeds my sister creates. My gardens are tiny. They are in little red pots hanging from the railing and, quite honestly, I think they are perfect.