I am very much a novice gardener, and as such, I make a novice's mistakes. But I am learning. I am learning. For example, next year, I will not break the tall young fern fronds by whipping the hose across them as I pull it along to water my flower beds. Some of the fronds were almost four feet tall when they had finished unfurling and had just begun to lean gracefully away from their centers. As they lay broken, I thought to myself, well, better luck next year, I guess. The ferns are less forgiving than some of the other plants growing in my garden. As I deadhead the petunias in the hanging baskets, for example, I sometimes snip a blooming, growing shoot away by mistake, but no one notices the difference. I have learned to water the myrtle around the maple tree regularly since the summer that only the myrtle near the portulaca (which I watered every day) thrived, and the rest of it turned brown and died.
I derive a strange sort of peace from weeding and edging my flower beds. This past spring, when things were worse than usual at work, I hurried home every day during my lunch hour. The dogs welcomed me with flying leaps and many licks, and after a quick sandwich, I headed for the back yard, where I wandered around with my clippers for ten minutes or so, imposing order, however temporary, as I went. I returned to work calmed and relaxed. My evenings are often spent out back, as well, and it is more satisfying than I can say to look out the big kitchen windows at the stones ringing the maple tree after they have been freshly edged.
This passion for gardening at this point in my life has taken me by surprise. I have always loved spending time outside on a beautiful spring or summer day, but for years, that time was spend lying on a chaise lounge in the sun, working on my tan. I spent many peaceful hours reading and soaking up the sun, and I don't regret them. In the last few years, though, sunbathing has lost its appeal for me, and I am glad of it. I find it interesting that my brother has also become increasingly interested in gardening in recent years. Although we had nothing resembling a garden when we were children, I think it may be in our blood, all the same. Our maternal grandfather was a professional landscape gardener. The flowers in his borders were always neat and orderly, and his lawn was the bright emerald green of lawns in our reading books. Thinking back on it now, our grandparents' little pink bungalow, surrounded by blooming flowers and green grass, looked like a page torn from a child's story book. People really did live that way.
We are nearing the end of July now, and my favorite part of the summer, the fresh clear days of May and early June, is past. This is the time I have, however, and I plan to make good use of it. Routine is important to me, and so I am sure I will have one before too long. Right now, however, the tantalizing prospect of un-structured weeks spreads out before me. I expect I will make some mistakes. I hope I will learn from them. I will continue to tend my garden.