Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Germination of the Garden Geek’s Green Thumb

If someone had asked me five years ago whether I had any interest in gardening, I would have laughed in their face. Being a loyal New Yorker, I’d never intended to leave the confines of the city until my crumbling body finally rotted and withered away to nothing. Even then, I probably wouldn’t leave. So gardening didn’t seem like something that would ever be included in my resume of experience.

But then, circumstances changed in my life, and I was given this amazing house in Plainfield, NJ—complete with a yard, and plenty of room for gardens, trees and other such adornments. At first, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of taking care of such a massive amount of space. After all, I came from Manhattan. The most lawn I’d ever seen was between the sidewalk and the curb, and even then it was somewhat patchy. I also had horrible memories of helping my parents weed and maintain the family garden when I was younger. After a particularly close call with the churning blades of a Rototiller, I’d made a solemn promise never to enter the confines of a garden again. (To this day, I still have vivid nightmares about being pulverized by the churning blades of an old-fashioned nut grinder.)

Naturally, I procrastinated for a long time, hoping the mounting forest of weeds, vines and other assorted yard debris would somehow transform itself into a beautiful garden all by itself. Or perhaps a family of small elves would take it upon themselves to landscape my property for me, while I sat upstairs in my room making shoes. As neither of these scenarios appeared to be happening, I ultimately decided to tackle the terrain myself. For weeks, I pulled weeds and raked leaves and cleaned garden beds, until I was finally able to see the actual property underneath all the ground cover. And it wasn’t such a bad piece of land at that. Plenty of potential. All I needed now was decide what to do with it.

Luckily, my neighbor Ramona was a wealth of information when it came to gardening, and felt no compunction about forcing…er, offering her opinion at every opportunity. She was a great help when it came to deciding what kind of plants to get, where to put certain flowers and trees, and generally giving me some great advice about landscaping. And to my shock and surprise, I found myself actually enjoying every minute of it. It’s an amazing evolution to watch something grow from seed to seedling to sprouting flowers soaring ever upwards to the sky. Truly one of life’s little miracles, and I foolishly took it for granted most of my life.

But now, I’m hooked. I love tending to the garden and making my property look as nice as it possibly can. Last Fall, I even planted tulips for the first time, and was like a silly schoolboy this Spring when the stalks actually started appearing. Not only that, but the tulips grew to about two feet and had the biggest blossoms I’d ever seen. (Which isn’t really saying much, because I’d never paid much attention to flowers before. Now I greet them with a new kind of respect.)

I also finally understand why some people say Spring is the best time of year, and why the annual rebirth of the backyard is one of the most exciting personal pleasures you can experience. I haven’t bought a pair of Crocs yet, and I don’t have a subscription to Mother Earth News, but I am definitely a born-again Gardener. Now if only I could get my bank account to have a successful germination as well. Is there a Miracle Grow out there for that kind of green?


Mrs Mecomber said...

I was the same way! I was never interested in gardening until we bought a house. Then BAM I'm a garden freak! Love it!

Henson Ray said...

I guess it literally comes with the "territory" then...