Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Beginning

The continuing story of my first gardening experiences, way back in 2001 - 2003, as described in Killing, Part 1, and Killing, Part 2.

Having successfully eradicated nearly all signs of life from my overgrown yard, I now faced a new and no less intimidating task: what to do with the blank moonscape I now faced. You will recall it looked like this:

"Houston, we have a problem."
Did I have what it takes to bring life back to my now lifeless landscape? Somehow buoyed by my successful killing spree, I thought, sure! But how to start?

Luckily, my principle gardening mentor (Dad) answered that question for me the first time my parents came to visit my new little home. Among the many housewarming goodies, Dad had brought a big bag of plants for my very first garden.

To be perfectly accurate, he brought me bulbs and roots. Little sacks of crocus bulbs and jonquil bulbs. Best of all, a big bag of dirty knobs and roots: these were black-eyed Susans and beautiful white peonies, dug up from their yard.

So that fall of 2001, I planted my first bulbs and roots in the blank canvas of my yard. And the next spring...

My very first flowers

To passersby, this was simply a hardscrabble, dust bowl landscape in miniature. To me, it was my first garden miracle--and the encouragement I needed to attempt to fill the rest of those dusty blank spaces. Between that Spring of 2002 and the Spring of 2003, I enthusiastically learned the joys of the garden center, of impulse plant shopping, and of mulch. And within the space of that one year, the front yard went from the dust bowl above to this:


Clearly there was no rhyme or reason to my planting choices. My "plan" was "put things in the ground and hope they live." And surprise, many did!

Did it look crazy to others? I honestly don't know. To me, it still looks beautiful, and I still feel proud looking at this picture. I will not lie: not everyone shown here survived. (The ones in the clay pots almost certainly all perished; I am not good with potted plants.) But a good many DID survive, despite my lack of skill and haphazard care. That was enough to give me the confidence to keep trying.

Lesson learned: don't let lack of experience or knowledge or even initial failures prevent you from soldiering on and trying again. This former black thumb is proof that persistence pays off.

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