My garden has two features – yesterday’s weeds and today’s weeds,
and by this time of the summer, they are definitely the survival of the fittest.
Despite my fanciful intentions, I am not fortunate enough to have a resplendent garden, one bountifully growing in abundant tiers of gorgeous blooms. Basically, mine grows in spite of me without the tender loving and steady care of a devoted or gifted gardener. Coupled with our abbreviated growing season, limited results are not unexpected.
Fortunately, the garden I do have survives in spite of my inconsistent attention to it, weeds included. I have also discovered that the plants prospering with or without me have been taking over in rather glorious abundance the past couple of years and, with relief, are sturdy and gratefully colorful.
Regardless of how the flowers themselves survive, the weeds have less chance if I am on the alert. I cannot walk by, in gardening gloves or not, without plucking off a dead bloom or pulling out a sprig of crabgrass, scattering little piles of debris on the lawn, (an untidy habit that does not escape a husband’s comment).
A dear friend’s 80-something mother walked along the path to my door one summer and, silently, did the same thing. If anything needed snipping or pulling, she was not about to pass it by. What a model of unapologetic garden pruning and a comfort knowing that my compulsion has company. She was either casually demonstrating an assumed Master Gardener’s role or merely exhibiting her keen eye for any stray weed in my garden. Or any garden, I am told.
One of my vivid childhood memories is of the time when my kindergarten girlfriend and I thought we would do my mother a big favor one quiet summer afternoon by presenting her with a small fistful of bounty from her newly-planted garden.
With eager anticipation, we knocked on the front door of our house to make the formal presentation. When mother answered, I told her that Florency and I had picked some asparagus for dinner expecting her delight at our inspired thoughtfulness. Horrified, she quietly said that, oh no, it wasn’t asparagus but the tender shoots of her lovingly anticipated peony bush.
I have no memory of the bush but know that my mother was always restrained and gracious, and was a successful though not lavish gardener. Her mother excelled in growing luscious roses. My claim to fame is trying for as few weeds as possible in the present disarray of hostas, struggling hydrangeas and iris, and daylilies that are wildly filling in all the gaps.
My occasional garden will never reach anything but casual heights with a spray of color here and there along with the surprise of unexpected arrivals from pollination blown in my direction. Whatever the results, they are certainly welcome each year, especially for having survived the winter.
A metaphor for life might be that gardening is never without its challenges or its weeds, but the blooms can be surprising, enduring and sometimes magical.
Janice Kimes sketches the domestic cartoon of life with its inevitable calamities, delights and vigor. She and her family enjoy their seasonal Aitkin County cabin.