Monday, April 20, 2009

How Does My Garden Grow?

Spring renews my spirit and no where more so than in my garden. I have gardened for 25 years. I never knew I wanted to garden. I resisted helping my mother in her perennial garden. As a kid, I’d pull weeds because I had to. There was no appreciation of the breathtaking beautiful flowers blooming effortlessly every spring in the gardens of my childhood home.

I chronicle the phases of my garden each year. I love the fresh look of the tender shoots, so brave to appear in April. The entrance to my tumble down garden invites me to walk the path.

I became a homeowner with a yard and a strange sense of ‘earth’ came over me. I began with a small plot (pulled up the grass by hand after spring rains) and planted bulbs and annuals. I remembered the Iris and Peony, flowering Almond, Roses and Lupine my mother tended and asked for donations.

The garden expanded each year until it ran the length of the yard on one side and across the width at the back of the house around the deck, down one side, around the pond…well, you get the idea.

When my son was a toddler (he’s 20 now) I brought him into the garden to enjoy the soft touch of Lamb’s Ear and the shelter of the Sun Flower and Morning Glory House I planted for his enjoyment. Too many critters ate portions of the tender shoots so the shelter was more imaginary than real. The keyhole lock is still nailed to the evergreen that led into a small copse at the back of the property that led to our version of “The Secret Garden.” The overgrown entrance is now the backdrop to my sitting area where I enjoy a coffee and contemplation most mornings above 40 degrees.

By reading garden magazines and books on gardening I learned that some of the plants in my garden were poisonous: Jimson Weed, Pokeberry, Foxglove, Autumn Monkshood, forms of Larkspur, Lilly of the Valley. These all grow in my garden and the hardiness of these plants gave me the idea of how to poison a character in The Lion Tamer: A Caged Death. Since then I’ve developed a program for library visits called “Plotting while Potting.” During the program I explain how to use garden variety plants to kill characters in books. The program is complete with slides and music.

My affection and appreciation for my perennial garden has grown in directed proportion to the hours of comfort and joy spent in the dirt. Cheaper than therapy, I lose my worries and angst among the flowers. I’ve even learned to appreciate some weeds…flowers not yet recognized as such.

The first Sunday in May signals the renewal of my Sunday morning routine—coffee and journal in hand I sit and contemplate and record my flowers, my thoughts, my joy.

Luisa Buehler

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