Monday, May 16, 2011

Under A Mushroom Cap (With the Toads)

Literally overnight, and unexpectedly, walking in the forest turned into gardening in the backyard. I had been trying to resist it, fighting to get my feet back to the emblazoned path they had become accustomed to, but it seemed like they became leaden on purpose, refusing to move in the direction of the road, instead pointing out the backdoor and into my gardens.

Frog Under Iris but Same Idea
That's okay, I joke with my good friends that I just want to sit under a mushroom cap and converse with the toads for a little while. Warm weather slows me, the days are longer, and there is more time for sitting and dreaming. It is impossible for me not to sit and ponder a flower's face or the hummingbird's jeweled neck while in my gardens.  Household chores feel like I am punching a time clock, reporting back in, my commute only feet back to my door.

Lion Amongst the Hearts
I was inducted into this
world of gardens eighteen years ago when I acquired them (they came with the house) in their wild and audacious state, overcome by brambles. The only thing that grew in nice neat mounds were the dreaded dandelions, (that secretly I like but nonetheless fear when they get too close, or worse, settle themselves between the roots of a chosen specimen.)

In the early stages of gardening, it was rip, cut, and hack out the bad, patch it up with as much good as I could find cheaply; house renovations were going on in full swing so we did our best. Slowly, through the years, a happy mistake would happen, prodding me along and reminding me not to lose hope. I have twelve relatively large gardens around my house.

Sometimes I would listen to friends and family who gardened. I learned a lot from them and received many fine flower splices from their gardens, my most treasured are the peonies, heirlooms from my beloved neighbors. I have only bought one of my nine peony plants.

Soon to Bloom!

I turned page after page of English cottage garden books on many a hot day with a good cuppa in the shade. Probably my most helpful learning tool has been visiting gardens. Every year for the past ten, I go on a tour of hand spun gardens all over my city. I have learned that gardens are about desires.

Grape Hyacinths Run Amok
I made a lot of mistakes, my biggest: thinking I have any kind of control over what a plant is going to end up doing. Sure, at first, I managed it, telling it my hopes for it, feeding it, clipping it, and keeping it contained, but eventually, it does what it wants to and laughs in my face. I have learned to have more respect for flowers.

Every year I have a theme, partially to motivate me, partially to keep me on track. Last year's was, "rip out anything I don't love." I have learned this: you MUST do this BEFORE a flower forms, or you will not have courage. Fortunately, my ripped out plants get to live along my brook, or across it, so it helps me feel a little better about the ripping. Ripping may sound merciless, but sometimes it is just them and you, and survival of the fittest.

Snapping turtle born in my garden 2007
This year's theme is garden art. I am ready to locate treasures to place amongst the flora, and create some pretty  stepping stones too. So on some level, though more at the pace of a summer turtle, than a snow hare, I will still be taking my walks.