Four weeks ago, I did not know what a hosta was. Today I can actually recognize a Bleeding Heart, a Coral Bells and a Lime Ruffles Heuchera. Yes, I have become a “wanna be” gardener! This shift happened quite unexpectedly. For the longest time, I found gardening intimidating, time consuming and tedious. I avoided it like the plague and my garden showed the sorry effects of my lack of effort and energy.
For some reason, over the past couple of months, I have been craving the need to bring life to my garden. I have been visualizing endless flowers and green grass and vibrant colours. But I did not know where to get started. So I got a couple of quotes from a garden centre and landscaper to build a flower bed and found the cost prohibitive. My friend, Deva, came to the rescue. Deva is an instinctive, fun, passionate, loving and energetic gardener. She lives and breathes everything garden and can happily spend her entire day in its sanctuary. Her garden is the envy of her neighbours who drop by to get plant cuttings and advice. For the past two years, Deva has been asking to work on my garden but I was too embarrassed to take her up on her offer. This time she insisted and I accepted wholeheartedly!
Deva embarked upon my home with a plethora of plants and herbs and fertilizer loaded in her van. She came prepared with gardening utensils, gloves, a hat and sunglasses. She had me don a pair of gloves (which I very nervously put on). And over the next few hours, we dug and planted and put soil in the ground and watered. I observed Deva treat the plants with respect, and when I accidently broke a stem, she consoled the plant (and asked me to be more careful).
Sometimes we worked quietly putting our attention to the task at hand. Other times we chatted and got caught up in each others’ lives. And through all of this, I was noticing how happy I was just playing in the mud and watching the garden emerge. And even though it is a young garden, I see the promise of design and colour and fragrance as it matures. Deva instructed me on how to sustain the garden, including when and how often to water the plants. And, even though I am not very good at following instructions, I am committed to keeping the garden alive and well. This is easier said than done! Half the time, I don’t know what I am doing. And then I will get a text from Deva that has just the right amount of instruction and motivation. Here is an example of one of her texts:
“Plants are on sale at Home Depot. You need to buy 3 x Lime Ruffles Heuchera, 2 x Bleeding Hearts (one in each color), 10 X Forget Me Not (flowerbed border at the front), 3 x Spring Fling Bergenia, 3 x Astilbe, 5 Coral Bells, 3 x Hostas in each variety. It will fill up the flowerbed for spring! It will cost approximately $120. P.S. Hurry hurry before the plants sell off…”
Nagib and I tentatively went to buy plants – a first for us – and we managed to live through this experience! Then I asked Shayne to use his muscles to help me dig the part of the flower bed that still needed a few plants. As he did this, I planted the new plants. Woohoo!
And then today I get another text from Deva. It is her texts that keep me motivated and thinking about the garden, and I am beginning to realize that gardening is an every day affair.
“Hi Munira, Lovely pics of Sabrina’s graduation! Just sending a note to remind you that you should be fertilizing the plants now. 5 L of water for 1 spoon of Miracle Grow (Ultra Bloom). Use a watering can and a bigger container of about 15 L to mix it. I have a 15L container and I use 3 spoons (spoon that comes with the fertilizer)! Happy feeding! :)”
Edward O. Wilson, a biologist, talks about the sensory experience of growing plants and how it stirs mysterious regenerative processes deep in our bodies and mind. I have now experienced this first-hand, much to my surprise. With my body filled with bad cancer cells, I am finding the need to connect to what is living and to support life as a novice gardener. Working in the garden feeds my soul. And on tough days, it gives me the purpose to get out of bed so I can water and take care of the plants. And lately something beautiful has been happening. Butterflies have been showing up, in abundance, to enjoy the garden. Their presence brings so much joy to my life!
My friend Deva is looking to create a business by designing and building small gardens. If this is something of interest to you, feel free to contact her at email@example.com.