Monday, February 11, 2008
A trip to two nurseries on Sunday filled our car's trunk with new plants. We found some irresistible succulents for our deck, cheery ornamentals and dainty alpine poppies (above, getting a drink) for our front yard, and the beginnings of our salad garden for the raised bed. My husband and I were like slugs in a field of new sprouts--everywhere we looked was something enticing. We had to stop ourselves before we bought enough plants for an acre. As it was, it took the better part of Sunday for the two of us to plant all we bought. That's partly because before we could plant, we had some transplanting and shearing and weeding to do.
Here's the Galactic lettuce (will it be out of this world?) and green Swiss chard starts. All around them I planted Brun d'hiver lettuce and arugula and chervil seeds. Starts are instant gratification. Presto: my lettuce garden! But seeds are something quite different. They are Jack's magic beans, tossed out of the window by his mother, that grow into a miraculous ladder to the sky. I could barely see the lettuce seeds I planted; the chervil were tiny black needles and the arugula smaller than mustard seeds. How is it possible that each has the potential to grow into a whole plant with roots and leaves and flowers and finally seeds again? I have to be careful not to put too much hope into them. Most of them won't come up, and those that do may be mowed down by snails or dry up if I forget to keep them moist. By the time they are as big as my starts, they will have been through a lot, if they make it. If the Brun d'hiver comes up it will really be a miracle, since I saved them from a crop we grew in 1995.
Working in the garden with my husband reminds me of the many seasons we have worked this yard together. Going on fourteen, now. It has changed radically, our 600 square feet. When we moved in there was fresh turf covering most of it, with two stiff camelia bushes. Only the following spring did we discover the turf had been laid down over blackberry vines, wild onions, and oxalis. We're still battling the latter. The Joseph's Coat roses and ornamental cherry and tomatoes and lavatera we planted are all gone. But the Bubble Bath and Cecil Brunner roses and eucalyptus we planted early on are still around. And every year we put in new plants, hoping they'll make it. The ones that end up sticking around are the ones we can stop pampering and worrying about. Once they get a good start, they just do what they need to do with little attention from us. Like these narcissus that we add to each year with the bulbs I forced indoors. They just come up every spring.