I just realized Tuesday was exactly one year from my first post on this blog. I was sitting down to talk about gardening today, and remembered my first post had been about gardening. And what do you know? I started gardening almost the same day last year. It was the end of a long saga of building painting and deck rebuilding on the part of my landlady, wherein I ended up with my "Solomon's step":
I also ended up with a brand new deck I was told I could not water plants on lest the wood rot. San Francisco gets enough moisture from fog and rain that I thought I'd just let things go and see what happened. They did okay for awhile. Then my autumn depression set in and I stopped going outside and everything died.
A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to see bright orange flowers peeking through my back fence and I went out to find that one of the planters I'd left out behind the fence to toss out had spontaneously sprouted a lovely crop of nasturtiums. So I brought that one back onto the deck and enjoyed the lovely color among all the dead things. Then a couple of days ago I spotted more nasturtiums growing in two additional planters that had been full of weeds. I love it when, as Jeff Goldblum's character said in Jurassic Park, "life finds a way."
Today I finally got the yen to go out and deal with the weeds and see if there was anything to salvage. Most of my succulents are actually thriving. My Betty Boop roses are beyond dead. :( But my little "unintentional bonsai" fig tree is still struggling along and sweet alyssum has popped up in several of the pots. I spent an hour weeding, and pruning down the rosebush in hopes that maybe there's a tiny bit of dormant life in the roots, and then watered everything.
I'd forgotten how much I love spending time in the garden, even if it's just weeding. It's a little like editing, finding all the useless things sprouting among the good and tidying it all up so the good stuff can thrive. You're still there engaging with the creation you love even if you're not actively growing it at the moment. And sometimes you'll find unexpected surprises, things you'd forgotten or have a new appreciation for. Maybe something you thought wasn't going to work out turns out to be a lovely blossom.
This weekend I'm planning an outing to a plant nursery to get some petunias and lavender and mint, little things I can plant around in the small pots on the deck to give it some color, and then I'm going to look through their roses and flowering vines and see what strikes my fancy. I'm hoping for a nice jasmine plant, and maybe I'll give the bougainvillea another shot (haven't had much luck with them, but I love the profusion of bright pinks and purples and crimsons I see in other people's gardens and can't quite give up on them). This part will be more like the excitement of starting a new story, choosing the elements that will be in it and imagining how they're all going to fit together.
And then along with those, I'll go through my seed packets and see what I've got. Then the real fun begins: putting it all together and watching it grow. At that stage it's "first draft" and I don't have to worry yet about the weeds that will invariably crop up among the things I meant to plant or the pests I'm going to have to deal with down the line when the garden is in full bloom. It's just me and the fertile earth.