In case you don't know, I have become a gardener in my later years. People think that growing up in small town Tennessee is the same as growing up on a farm. After all, you were "out in the country". The truth is that for most of my life I could not have told you how to plant a seed if my life depended on it. Then we bought our first house and all my latent fantasies came to the front. I yearned for roses. In fact, I found that I had a strong desire to live in a rose covered cottage.
When we bought our current home I inherited two rose bushes and added four more spread throughout the various beds in my front and back yards. I soon found out why some people hate roses. They are like temperamental teenage girls. Over the winter they sit sullenly in my yard resembling nothing so much as rusted rebar. I swear at that point that I will rip them out. Around the beginning of May I begin my enslavement to them. Each week I feed them with smelly concoctions, I watch carefully to see which ones have developed any horrible rose-specific cooties and then use gentle organic (read time-c0nsuming) methods to get rid of them. I prune them and coddle them and swear once more to get rid of them and plant a yard full of daisies. And then they bloom. The cottage roses at the front come in all full and flashy, the hardy bush rose bursts out in a riot of deep pink. The two old roses that came with the house fill my back yard with this wonderful spicy sweet scent. And I am hooked again. The two roses that I inherited are old roses and only bloom for a month in June. The others will bloom all summer if I am a faithful servant. I'm beginning to accept my relationship with the roses. A couple of years ago I bought them lavendar bushes to keep away pests. The lavendar completed the "scent garden" I had put at the front of my house. As you walk up the front path you brush against a creeping thyme and then you smell the roses. There are lilies later in summer which give off a less cloying scent.
You can tell a lot about a person from their garden. And often the act of planting a garden tells you a lot about yourself. I always thought that I would plant well ordered rows and boxes. I assumed I would do formal plantings in well contained beds. Indeed that's how my first garden started. But once I got enough space, my inner Byron came out. My well ordered beds morphed into a cottage garden in the front. The rock garden I inherited overflows now with lily of the valley and succulents. I have a cutting garden in back that is home to my sacrificial daffodils. In spring I cut every one of them and fill up a cobalt blue vase. Then I spread the rest through the house. This year I also had giant red emperor tulips back there. Those landed in my front hall. I am a glutton for color but somehow it all works. And I have no idea who this person is who plants these flamboyant plots. I'm beginning to think that a garden is the perfect path to self awareness.
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