Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Gardening?

I don't do gardening. I don't do dirt, or bugs, or weeds or any of that stuff.  I also don't do 'outside' a lot - as in aimless walks through quote/unquote nature. Speaking of walks - what IS the difference between a walk and a hike? Or for that matter, the difference between Take a walk! and Take a hike!

I don't do picnics (sitting on the ground with the dirt and the bugs Eww) or eating outside of any kind, fancy restaurant or not. (Have you ever walked past a sidewalk cafe and just wanted to  grab some food off a plate and keep walking? Oh man, I have to quash that urge so hard - one of these days I'm just gonna do it!) Okay, okay, yes, I will grab a slice or a frank or a pretzel and eat it as I walk along...but that's not really eating outside as in those other examples - that's just multitasking.

Rory is talking about his new garden today. The man is one freakin' serious gardener. He has worm farms (I'm sure there is a reason to have that, I don't really want to know.) and compost - and my limited knowledge of compost is that it is homemade fertilizer as opposed to store bought fertilizers which cows and horses make.

I'm sure it is very gratifying to grow your own carrots or whatever. I definitely can appreciate flowers and lord knows I cannot live without looking out my window and seeing trees but trees don't exactly fall under the heading of gardening.  But compost? Worm farms? Are you kidding me?

Where I come from, if you live in a private house (as opposed to an apartment building) you almost always have a backyard (if you live in a somewhat more residential area you will have a front yard as well.) These back and front yards are usually grass and flowers and bushes  or, as the Brits call them, gardens.

Lawns can be a competitive sport in suburbia, I had a friend who finally gave up on trying to nurture a front lawn, paved it over, painted it green and had done with it. He was my kind of gardener. He was before his time because now I see people have done up their front yard with fancy paving stones and other assorted bric-a-brac and they call it a patio. Call it anything you want as long as you don't have to mow it!

Which is not to say that I have not done gardening. I have - under duress.

June (my female DNA contributor) was born In Greenwich Village, always lived in apartment buildings but somewhere along the way acquired gardening knowledge and skills. When we moved to  a private house in Queens we had a front yard, back yard and a small side yard and the fun began.

She was an organic gardener before it was a thing - coffee grounds went on some plants; egg shells on other plants. There was always some leftover or other that was used to fertilize her numerous plants.  I'm sure she never read a book on gardening (actually I don't think she ever read any book on any subject) but she seemed to know how to make plants grow (people, not so much.)

Now the thing is - I did the work. She would point, I would do.

The first year we were in that house, I gotta give credit where credit is do, the woman single-handedly ripped out huge hydrangea bushes (she hated hydrangeas) that bordered the two halves of the front lawn as well as the stickers bushes that grew along the curb.  She was not a big woman, and those bushes were bigger than she was, but she got her pitchfork, dug into the roots and just yanked those suckers out of the ground.  I swear the whole neighborhood came out to watch the show.

As I got older and bigger the 'gardening' became one of my jobs. Mow the lawn, fertilize, weed, plant - all under her direction. And I hated every minute of it. I never liked dirt and bugs - never! I did not like getting dirty even as a teeny tiny toddler. And there I was, forced to muck about in the dirt.

June's favorite flowers were roses and I have to say we had some damn gorgeous rose bushes and rose trees that she nurtured, grew and even propagated. She had a green thumb. She stuck a branch of a lilac tree in the ground and the damn thing grew, took years but it finally got big enough to flower. She was also a dab hand at house plants - particularly African Violets, which I understood were difficult to maintain and I wasn't allowed near them, not that I was all that interested. People use to bring her their African Violets, in their little pots, and ask her to fix them - she was the African Violet doctor.

Aside from roses, June loved gardenias and it was the one plant that she had no success with. She got one as a gift and she babied that plant.  She potted it in a large metal pot that she would bury in the backyard during Spring and Summer, then dig up the pot and bring it inside for the Fall and Winter. The plant grew big and healthy but it never bloomed. She had it for years (years!) and it never bloomed. Then one Summer she had a month off from work and she went to California to visit her family. I swear the minute she was out the door that damn gardenia plant started to bloom and just wouldn't stop. I had gardenias floating in bowls all over the house. I was forcing them on the neighbors. I don't think any gardenia plant, in the history of gardenia plants, ever produced that many blooms in that short period of time. Because don'tcha know, when she came back from California that plant stopped blooming, never to produce another flower. It was still big and healthy with lush shiny leaves but no flowers ever again. (True Story)

(As I am re-reading this I realize that once again, I started out with the intent to talk about wild gardens and ended up talking about something else altogether.)

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