I Am Not A Gardener

I Am Not A Gardener

Confession: I am not a gardener.

Oh I want to be! I want to be the person who knows all the names of the flowers at the nursery… not the person that a kind older lady takes pity on, telling my kids what each one is called because clearly I’m clueless. I want to sink my fingers into a pot of rich black soil and not think about how badly I want to wash my hands. I want to not be afraid of wasps or bothered by spiders; they’re so HELPFUL, as any good gardener will tell you! But I am not a gardener.

I’ve been a non-gardener my whole life. My mom loves to tell people how I cried and refused to budge when she sat me down in a patch of grass as a toddler. I just don’t handle dirt or bugs or heat very well. Some people are said to be born with a green thumb and the talent for gardening; obviously I was born with a brown thumb. I even kill cactuses quite successfully. My greatest horticultural achievement was keeping a funeral lily (barely) alive for four years… but even that had to be thrown away last summer when it developed some kind of stink disease, which made it smell like a garbage dump. I’m just not naturally good at this!

Petunias half dead
My brown thumb skills at work. My Secret Sister at church gifted me this gorgeous potted plant, and I TRIED to take good care of it, but I am not a gardener. Today it went from horrible…
Petunias deadheaded
…to slightly less horrible after I “deadheaded” it – which is pulling off all the dead flowers and, in my case, leaves.

Growing Things

However, year after year, my appreciation for gardening grows. I like flowers, especially yellow and purple ones. I love the joy and self-sufficiency of growing my own vegetables. Few things compare to seeing tiny new sprouts reaching for the sun from their soil bed! And don’t even get me started on how much better your own home-grown foods taste. So I keep trying, and I prefer to call what I do Growing Things. Doesn’t that sound magical and much less stressful? I don’t garden; I put some seeds in the ground, water them when I remember to, and then boom – I grow things! Abracadabra!

The very best way I’ve found of growing things is to actually buy a plant that someone else has grown, and then take credit for it. Yesterday I spontaneously stopped at a nursery that I’ve driven by for months, and it turned out to be serendipitous – it was their last day for the season, and they were practically giving everything away. I chose five flowers that I liked the look of, and used the little tags they come with for more information: sun needs, water preference, and the plant names. I ended up with vincas, moss roses, lobelias, calibrachoas (aka Evening Star Superbells), and something I lost the tag for! I guess I should have asked the nice older lady to come home with me.

Pallet of flowers before planting

 So this is the pallet I started with. When I bought them, the moss roses (back right) had beautiful red, cream, yellow, and pink blooms on them, which seem to have disappeared today. I’m hoping they will grow more flowers soon. In my white shorts (which I do not recommend), I dragged out a bag of top soil, my box of mixed compost & manure, and all the pots I wanted to fill. I eased the flowers out of their plastic containers, loosened their roots gently, and set them into their new homes. I filled in the pots with top soil and a little of the compost/manure, and watered them with a plant food and water mixture. And of course, I talked to the plants, apologizing for uprooting them but promising they would like their new space. I like to think it encourages them to grow.

(Here is a free bonus gardening tip for you: don’t throw your watering can. I broke the head off of mine tossing it to the hose, and ended up having to duct tape it back together – which I think was the very best and classiest way to fix it.)

Broken watering can with chicken
Bijou isn’t sure this really is the classiest way to fix it. But she’s a chicken, what does she know?

Two hours, four pots, one foot of duct tape, and five hand washes later, this is what I had to show for my efforts:

Flowers potted in various planters

Isn’t that little piggy pot adorable?! I’ve had an undying love for pigs since I was very young. (I actually wanted to be a pig farmer when I grew up, until the heartbreaking day I found out you have to slaughter them). So when I saw this little guy a few years ago, I just had to have him! From left to right are the mystery flowers and lobelia in the pig; purple calibrachoa in the dark red pot; moss roses in the silver container; and red vincas mixed in with petunias in the long planter.

God’s Reminders

As for the bird nest in the photo, my two youngest children found it on the ground while we were geocaching last weekend. I just love how perfect it is. I keep it on the back steps next to the pig planter, to look at every time I come home. It reminds me of Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

No, I am not a gardener, but I am learning to be one. With my brown thumb it’s taken extra desire, determination, and a lot of deadheading! But becoming a gardener has taught me patience. I’m learning how to water and tend my plants, yes; but mostly I’m learning how to let go of my desire for control over them. I’m learning to stand back and trust in God to do what only He can do… in me, and in my garden.

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