Friday, March 25

If You Are a Gardener....

you'll like this quote:  

"When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)


Many years ago, I was a gardener. I planted flowers, bushes,  small trees and edibles.  We had a  40x40 garden that we carved out of a lot where there had previously been a thick forest of trees and bushels of rocks. We planted corn, beans, squash, cukes, eggplants and tomatoes. The first year, with eight tomato plants, we gleaned over 400 tomatoes. We had so many that we couldn't give them away fast enough - and since that was a banner year for tomatoes, we had a hard time finding people who wanted more. We had so many eggplants that I couldn't give them away either - no one around us liked eating eggplant. The following year, I planted only one eggplant, and that was more than enough. Our corn didn't do well, but our neighbor's did. He couldn't seem to grow tomatoes, so we traded; his corn for my tomatoes and he kindly tossed in a mess of fresh beets every so often.  I miss those days. I really miss them.

When we moved to this neighborhood, we soon discovered that we had barely any soil; just red clay and rocks. There were a few plants here already: a gardenia, three forsythias, one rambling rose, an acuba, a cleyera and a few straggly azaleas. I am sorry to say that I added nothing to that mix for quite a few years. I did plant a miniature crape myrtle, some irises and tulips. I found that first spring that there were daffodils, but after all these years, they have dwindled down to a precious few (and the heavy rains took all of them last night.) About ten years ago, we replaced all the azaleas, but the new ones have not done well and in fact, they seem to be confused, since they seldom bloom when they are supposed to. Shortly after we moved here, I started my business, and fairly soon I was ( I said)  too busy to do any gardening. In retrospect, had I planted a cutting garden back then I'd have saved a lot of money buying from wholesale florists.

I am no longer able to be a gardener. So that leaves us with a messy-looking series of planter beds in front of our house, that are more full of weeds and moss than anything. And in the back yard, we have extremely overgrown ivy and little more that is of interest.

If I have plants now, they have to be in pots that are small enough that I can move them easily. I have to plant them using a waist-high table that keeps me from having to bend over. I can work for a florist and stand on my feet all day, but if I have to bend and twist and lift - it's another story; one told with pain meds, heat wraps and lying in bed to recover.

I'm not sure what brought all this up - I suppose it was the quote. Like Emerson, once upon a time, I loved playing in the dirt and creating beauty. I can no longer do it - and it makes me sad.


db grin said...

Gardening is a balm - I wish I made the time to do more of it. But dang - when digging a bed means you have to go out and buy dynamite, some of the fun is taken out of it.

You know who to call if you need a hand whipping those beds and planters into shape. If there's a plan of action I'm your gal (and i'll press the Things into service as well - they're young and strong)!

Tabor said...

I avoid the really heavy stuff like lifting big pots, but I still do the twisting and pulling and turning and just soak in the tub at the end of the day.

Celia said...

I'll be thinking of you when I get outside this year. This is my first year alone with the yard and my knees are whining already. No bending or twisting for me either. Guess I will have to alter my botanical visions.

NellJean said...

I'm sorry for your aches and pains. We just have to learn to compensate somehow and lay in a stock of NSAIDS.

Unlike Ralph Waldo, I've never had anybody do the digging and planting and so on for me. I've been out watering the sandpile where I play off and on all day.
Butterflies are back by the dozen. they are able to find the flowers among the weeds, no problem.

Pat said...

Don't be sad - there are compensations to getting older and not having to push oneself so hard to be good at everything.
You will always have flowers and plants around you and nature has much to offer which doesn't require any work from us.

Arkansas Patti said...

I do love to garden, primarily veggies. I also live in an area known for growning rocks. Had to put in raised beds and create soil. Then this year I have replace the flowers in my hanging baskets with veggies. So far so good. No bending, no weeds, and easing picking. I have a wrap around porch which helps. If you have a place for hanging baskets, give it a shot. Might not work for corn:))

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I so understand Judy...I can no longer even go down into my Garden--below my house---And I miss it so very much. No bending and in truth, I am in pain just walking from room to room...But it was a glorious time when I was able to work in my Garden....It is all Cactus & Succulents---so the Flowers that come are quite precious.
I know it has to make you sad not to be able to do the things you could do before---Our bodies begin to betray us as time goes on, and I never ever thought that would happen to me. But it sounds like when you had that garden in your other house, that it was glorious!!

Gilly said...

I can feel your pain! I can't garden much these days. I can bend over and weed a bit, or c ut things down, but can't stay long in that position! And when I move I need a stick (cane) in order to walk. So you would laugh to see me with a hoe, be-handed hoeing is not terribly effective! Raking I can do a bit of, provided I always go backwards and don't need to apply too much pressure!

Oh, the joys of getting old!!

Nancy said...

When my cousin lived in Tampa,Florida he used to grow beautiful tomatoes.He was so proud of them, and rightly so, they were delicious.

Then he got transferred to Jacksonville and bought an apartment in a building that was surrounded with concrete. Not a drop of soil anywhere on the property.

So he went to the garden store and bought 4 bags of top soil. He cut a huge X in the top of each bag and put two tomato plants in each bag of dirt. Then he put them in the Sun and they flourished. He had so many tomatoes he was also giving them away.

He is retired and back in Tampa now and tells me the tomatoes he grows there are not as good as his "Bag" tomatoes were.....

Anonymous said...

Judy, I, too, have resorted to container gardening and using lightweight pots. I have found some websites I enjoy such as "Life on the Balcony" that have great ideas for planting in containers. Gladys

Sheri said...

The quote from Emerson is great. I, too, love getting my hands into the soil. . .pulling weeds.

I can't get down on my knees anymore and sit on a gardening stool, but then my back hurts from bending forward. Whaddoyado?

I have dreams (nightmares?) of weeds in my garden and overgrown shrubs. . . and another growing season with no flowers blooming.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

Bending. Kneeling. Lifting.

I remember them well.

Lovely offers of help here, but I totally get what you're saying.... it's the physical act of plunging your hands deep into the soil that soothes the soul.