My mother was a passionate and talented gardener. And while I see quite clearly every time I look down at my hands that I inherited her long fingers, her deep nail beds and her strong nails, I most certainly did not inherit her green thumbs.
But it was not for lack of trying on her part.
I know the names of an impressive number of annuals and perennials, and I even know the difference between annuals and perennials, so clearly I was paying attention when she talked me through dozens of garden tours and walks through the Chicago Botanical Gardens. She taught me how to garden share to save money. The daylilies and hosta that grew too thick to flourish in her garden where thinned out and shared with the church garden, my grandma and aunt, or neighbors.
I remember the summer she discovered an invasion of grubs in her daylilies. She spoke with the urgency of a 9-1-1 call as she thrust shovels into the hands of my brother and me and instructed us to dig, dig, DIG(!!) until her beautiful daylilies were out of the ground and lying on newspapers spread in the yard so she could save them with some kind of botanical haz-mat decontamination.
Year after year, more compost (what we called manure at our house) or peat was added to her flower beds and the back lawn shrank as the garden’s edges were expanded to include an area for lettuce and herbs one year and roses another. As one of two lawn mowers in the family, this was fine with me!
And while I appreciate a lovely garden as much as the next person, I just don’t have the passion (or the tolerance for worms) to give the activity the weekly attention needed for a stunning, blooming garden. I’ve learned that half a dozen pots out front, a border of hostas in the back, and a ring of daylilies around the flagpole are the extent of my gardening talents, so long as all are hit with strategically positioned sprinkler heads. I let a bed of 25-year-thick English ivy give passers by the illusion of a lush green garden.
We all have our gifts, as they say!
Enjoy the blooms and blossoms that come with the spring, and I’ll see you around town.