Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

I love to see things grow. Be it children or plants I love to witness the process: children as they move through their many stages of development, flowers when they bloom, or plants when they produce their delicious vegetables. Living in a desert I have been challenged in trying to grow anything that can live past the summer.

The other day my grandson Aiden and I schlepped to Star Nursery and loaded up our little red wagon with herbs, tomato plants and fragrant hyacinth flowers. I couldn't wait to put them all into the soil I'd prepared for their arrival. Every day from now on I'll go out and practically try and will the plants to grow before my eyes. I am an eternal optimist. Within months, when the hot sun hits and remains for four months, I'll be lucky to have one or two plants remaining.

It was my grandmother Oberlander that gave me an appreciation for growing things. Her home, the one where I grew up, was filled with plants; the grounds of our property were overgrown with flowers and trees. Her favorite, I think, were cactus. When I moved to Las Vegas I took her to the Cactus Garden at Ethel M's in Henderson. Filled with embarrassment and fear of getting caught, I watched as she made her way snipping pieces off of plants and stuffing them in her purse. She could take a clipping of most any living plant and grow it into a showpiece. She could take any item: a rock, an old shoe, a chipped cup and turn it into a happy home for her plants.

When I moved to southern California, I was thrilled to know I could pretty much grow things year-round. I reveled in turning the dirt over, enclosing my garden patch to keep the chickens I raised out. I would happily weed the flower beds, careful not to disturb the roots of my seedlings. Watching a tiny seed grow into a 6-foot sunflower is awe inspiring to me.

Here in Las Vegas I have had to be a bit more creative in how I approach the growing of things. Container gardening has been the most successful. Like my grandmother I envision almost any receptacle as a place to plant; an old, discarded bookcase is the home to my newest purchases.

Through trial and error I've had to figure out the best locations on the property where the sun doesn't shine for a full twelve hours each day. I have some success and that is what inspires me to keep on planting.

A Pepper tree that will need to be replaced

Aiden and I will go out later today and water our new plants. He was in charge of digging the little pocket the plant would be placed in and then carefully placing dirt around its rootball. My grandmother may have left us a while ago but she is still teaching and inspiring. Through me I will pass on her love of things that grow. I can hardly wait to hear the embarrassed gasp from one of my own grandchildren when they take me to a botanical garden and in horror watch me snip cuttings and slip them into my purse.


L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, I'm so jealous. Last year was the first time I lived somewhere where I could grow a garden. I loved every minute. I had tomato plants that were almost as tall as I am! I can't wait until it's warm enough for planting here. =] (And that's an AWESOME idea with the book case.)

Tammy Butner said...

I'm smiling because I can see your grandmother perfectly in my mind - probably because this reminds me of my own grandmother with the packets of ketchup and jelly in restaurants (Her view - "I could have used them while I was here so it's not like I'm stealing.") Living in an apartment, I don't have much opportunity to garden but I love keeping herbs in pots in my front window . . . there's something soothing about the process of caring for another living thing. And I agree - the bookcase is wonderful!

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Love the bookcase idea, very creative! I look forward to spring and summer - getting back out to the garden. I have a short growing season so I appreciate every day.

Each winter my houseplant collection grows, I simply can't throw out or pass by the offer of a cutting. Very rewarding. Enjoy your plants!

Anonymous said...

Lisa, like you, I love digging in the dirt too. My new office has a patio (we're on the 3rd floor), and today I replaced some 14 year old geraniums with basil and thyme and verbana. Let's hope they grow!