Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gardening Season 2011: highlights.

I have had some trouble living in the present, recently. 

I think most of us have trouble living in the present most of the time, in listening to what the Newsies told us and truly seizing the day--one of those ideals we all talk about and that the talk show hosts tell you you should do, but that few of us actually live up to--but my affliction has been worse than normal. I've always suffered from bouts of Hyper-Nostalgia, also known as can't-stop-living-in-the-past, but recently I can't stop living in the future. I'm constantly telling myself, "Well, when we're living in New York we can--" or, "Things'll be easier when Kathy graduates from school," or "When it's summer--", or, "When I have more time--", et cetera, on and on.

But here's the thing. We're not in New York. Kathy's still in school. It's not summer. Yet. And I will never have enough time.

To that end, I'm trying to remind myself why I wanted to move to Portland so badly four and a half years ago, why I've enjoyed it so much since we've been here, and in general coaching myself to appreciate the here and now because I always end up missing the here and now once it's gone after not being grateful enough of it while it was there.

One of my favorite things about our life here, and one of the things I will certainly miss the most, is gardening. It sounds small and trite but it's the truth. I like growing things, I like sticking my hands in dirt, I like taking care of things and watching them thrive. I like plucking fruit I've grown and plopping it into my mouth on the spot. It's neat, and in actuality, it's something of a miracle.

I wrote a retrospective of my gardening season in 2010, and I've been meaning to write one of 2011 for months, even as the 2012 season is creeping up on us. As I speak the sun is shining and my crocuses are already purple and about to stretch their tiny little arms, the daffodils are on their way, and the hyacinths and tulips are more than ready to wake up, too. So basically, it seems like a good time to get this entry done, even though I'm well aware that this entry will be exceedingly boring to pretty much anyone other than myself. But, that's never stopped me before.

It's always surprising to me how much a sunny sky can clear my mind, or at least calm it a little bit. You'd think after 28 some years of being acquainted with the sun this would stop surprising me, but it still does.

1) My siberian wallflowers are really kind out of control? To the point where the bush often takes over the sidewalk and I'm sure my neighbors and the mail lady that have to brush past it every day hate me for it? And this picture doesn't even do it justice? I apparently didn't know how much it would explode when I planted it three years ago and should have chosen a different location for it?

What it looked like three years ago:

See? Gardening = miracles.

2) The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm tulips were really the highlight of my life last year. I really embraced my inner-40-year-old-woman and ordered some bulbs from the amazing Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival the year before, a generic potpourri mix of bulbs, and seeing them pop up all around the house was DELIGHTFUL. DELIGHTFUL, I TELL YOU. There were so many colors and varieties and guessing what each one would look like filled my 40-year-old heart with happiness.  These orange-rimmed red ones were some of the best ones, obviously, but there were also purple and pink and orange and orange-stripey-ones, and ones with girly-fringe-y edges!

3) Speaking of fringe-y, these petunias--yeah, like Petunia Dursley!--were the only annuals I planted this year, mainly due to budget constraints, and this one kind was super frilly and ridiculous and I loved them. Annuals are amazing in how long they last throughout the season. It almost makes me get over the fact that they then die forever, I mean unless you're proactive and save the seeds or something crazy like that, and I know I like gardening, but let's not get out of hand here.

4) My lilies are always one of my absolute favorite things, even if, unlike the petunias, they never seem to last long enough--but when they're there, they're so wonderful. I've had these lilies blooming for a few years now, but this year they grew REALLY, REALLY TALL. Like freakishly tall, almost up to my chest? This is kind of weird, right? Oregon soil, you be crazy.

5) Okay, I lied about the petunias being the only thing we bought this year; we also bought a small cherry tomato plant. Here's the thing about tomato plants: I don't think they can NOT be awesome? And grow like crazy? At least in Oregon? We probably paid $2 for this, and while this picture only shows a tiny part, it grew and grew, eventually winding around the branches of our rose bush.

See? All from our little plant. Tomatoes are fun.

6) And speaking of the branches of our rose bush--our rose bush is always a highlight. Always.

7) And then finally, there was this thing. Okay, I have no idea what kind of a plant this is. I don't even really remember buying it although we must have planted it when we planted the petunias. Apparently I lied a lot when I said petunias were the only new thing we got this year. Anyway, what I do remember is watering this damn thing all through the dry Oregon summer, and it looking like it was on the pathetic verge of death the entire time. Everything would be vibrant except for this thing; I thought it was dead and gone several times.

And then! And then. Fall came. It started to get cold and rainy. Everything else lost all their leaves and dropped their petals and shrunk back. And all of a sudden, the leaves of this thing perked up, green and happy, and it started sprouting these bright red flowers. I know it seems like such a pathetic little thing, but these red flowers kept blooming, and for weeks, it was the only color in our yard, the only color on our whole street really, the only color in my day, sometimes. And this damn plant made me so happy every time I pulled up to the curb and saw it.

Thank you, little plant. Thank you, little apartment building in southeast Portland and the pretty things you've let me grow.

And since it's her day, I dedicate this post along with every flower I ever grow to my mom, the supreme master gardener. Happy birthday, Mom! I love you.

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