This weekend, Mark and I planted 500 daffodil bulbs around our house. I’m told these may or may not bloom this year. Next year we will get a hearty bunch of flowers for sure. The year after that, there will be an explosion of color that will curl my toes. Can’t wait. I’m not exactly patient. I got annoyed an hour later when I looked out my window and saw nothing in the spot where I’d spent hours bent over and burying those little bulbs.
I said, “This is boring. When will they arrive?”
Mark said, “You just planted them. It takes time.”
This weekend began my gardening education. I am an enthusiastic student, regardless of the fat that Mark keeps rolling his eyes as if I am a total lost cause. Can I help it if I don’t have his keen understanding of all things plant-like (yet)?
He says, “Stomp on the dirt to pack it down. Any air that gets into the root will make it rot.”
So, I stomp on the dirt.
He says, “You don’t have to do a daffodil dance on every one. Just stomp on it.”
I was stomping. Who said that gardening can’t be done with finesse? I prefer doing a little cha cha cha on top of each potential flower. I think the flower gods will like that, sort of like a rain dance, only it is good luck for the bulb.
Mark makes fun of me, says I am a gardening queer-bo. What can I say? You can take the girl out of dance, but you can’t take the dance out of the girl.
Of our 500 bulbs, Mark purchased about 450 of them. I happened to buy some on-line a few months back because they were on sale at the place where last year I bought wildflower seeds. (Seeds that never grew, by the way) I was inspired by the pictures – and the sale. This is not my role in the marriage – being the plant purchaser. Let’s just say I was stretching my horizons.
After we finish planting his load, Mark says, “Whatcha got?” He looks at my purchases and wrinkles his nose. “Mixed bulbs? We don’t want mixed bulbs. We hate mixed bulbs.”
“We do? I didn’t know that. They give diverse color. See, it says so right on the package. Besides which, I think they are pretty.” I say.
They aren’t naturalized,” he says, as if I should know what the heck he is talking about.
“It’s not like they are made of plastic. They are natural, ” I point out.
He explains that in the wild, flowers grow and multiply on there own, so to grasp a look that is natural, you must only use one color in an area. Slowly you blend to a different color. It’s gotta be a gradual thing. Apparently, mixed flower colors are corny.
My opinion is that mixed colors are pretty, and who are we kidding, we are planting the damn things for color, so the naturalization of this planting is just a fallacy anyway. As long as we are in control of what goes where, why not mix it up for fun? Why paint a picture with only a few primary colors when you can mix it up to get a variety?”
He shakes his head as if I just suggested we cover the sofa in the living room with plastic.
I also bought Hyacinths, which I was told are too small for our big expanse of land. And . . . um. . . I bought them mixed. Foolish me.
Mark kept looking around as if he couldn’t figure out where to put these bulbs, like I had bought a mermaid lamp with a clock in its stomach and wanted it in a place of prominence in the house. He wouldn’t dare suggest we not plant my bulbs, because that would be insulting my taste, and he is not one to purposely hurt my feelings or want to dampen my enthusiasm for planting. He is glad I’m interested in joining him outdoors, though I am sure he would rather me be slave labor than someone with an opinion. Anyway, it was clear to me he did not want my corny flower choices around his classy, perfect house. He is a master gardener, after all, and I have amateur tastes. But he recognizes that it is our house and he wants to be fair, so he would have planted them wherever I wanted if I had made a case of it.
I suggested we plant my bulbs near the chicken house, because I would love to see color there when I am working with the animals.
Boy oh boy, did he jump at that suggestion. He was like, “Great idea! They will look fantastic there!” Ha. He didn’t really think I’d mess with his garden vision did he? I just bought some bulbs for fun – not like I cared where they went. I am aware that he is the one who knows what is what outdoors and I wouldn’t presume to question his concepts.
So, we planted my mixed bulbs on the hill by the chickens. I guess they are corny. Big whoop. I think they will be beautiful. They are flowers for God’s sake, and all flowers are beautiful. Besides which, I tend to pick blooms whenever I see them (can’t resist), and in a vase, no one will care if they are naturalized or not. In fact, I’ll get double the pleasure when I see those mixed flowers now, because I bought them myself and they landed in my domain. Makes them uniquely mine.
Next, we went shopping for trees. Mark said we were going to buy 40. Cool.
I saw the apple trees and said, “How about we get twenty of those?”
His eyes popped out of his head. “You only need one of each apple tree for a grove. You can’t handle any more. Trust me.”
“I want lots of apples.” I insisted. “Enough for loads of cooking and for my horses too.”
“You’ll have enough. Pick four.”
So, I got one gala, two granny smith (because they are small and I slipped another one in when he wasn’t looking), one golden delicious, and one other one that I can’t’ remember now. We are buying peach trees today. And a plum and pear tree. I may have queer tastes when it comes to gardening, but apparently, I am a big fruit too.
I saw fig trees. I got so excited. I said, “Hey, let’s grow figs. What can I make out of figs?”
Mark thinks a minute and says, “Um…. Figgy pudding?”
“Yea, figgy pudding. “
“I’ll sing, “Bring us a figgy pudding” every Christmas,” he says.
“Good idea! What else can I make out of figs?”
He thinks some more. “Fig newtons.”
O.K. So there are not a lot of fig recipes that immediately come to mind. But I’m thinking homemade fig newtons sound good. I get my heart set on a fig tree. I point out that if we ever want to run around naked playing Adam and Eve, the leaves will come in handy too. But the garden lady blows that dream out of the water when she tells us that in Georgia the fig trees don’t ever really bear fruit. There goes my figgy pudding. There goes my Adam and Eve costume for next Halloween. Drat.
We bought pink flowering Chinese weeping willow trees, and flowering dogwoods and flowering pear trees and other things that will bring color around the house. These, I’m told, are the skeleton to our landscaping, and we will add bushes and annuals later. Fascinating.
I plunked a bag of lime on the counter to amend the soil around my beloved blueberry bush. I thought the blueberries were a bit sour and the bush is getting old. I think it needs some attention. Lime is what our pasture needed, I was told by the County <ST1Extension service. They explained that our soil was lime depraved, a very important nutrient, so I’ve been on a quest to rectify that. As an afterthought, I mentioned what I was doing to the garden lady. Her eyes grew round and said, “You know that lime will kill a blueberry bush, don’t you. Blueberries are an acidic plant (or maybe she said the opposite, I don’t remember). You absolutely do not want lime anywhere near it. Fruit bushes and pastures are very different and have different needs.”
Are you kidding me! I almost killed my most favorite thing in the world. This reminds me of why I don’t garden. When I left home and had my first apartment in New York, I kept buying plants, but they always died. Gave me a complex. I decided I didn’t have a green thumb. It was more a black thumb. So once I moved and got a house with a real yard, I had to be content with just grass. Then, when I got married, I left the gardening to Mark. He had the gift. Seemed the practical choice.
Wiping sweat from my worried brow, I bought the correct plant food to give my beloved blueberry bush a boost and decided that I wouldn’t do anything from now on without talking to the experts. Man, this is going to be a long perilous road, this learning all about how to grow things. It is far more complex than plunking seeds in the ground and watering them a few times a week. I am reading every article I come across about gardening in Georgia and about vegetable gardens etc. It is always fun to learn something new, but this is one big subject and if you screw up, you kill things. You might say, “Hey, it’s only plants”, but still, I think we must each take responsibility for our impact on all things living and I don’t want to be responsible for turning healthy plants into withering crusts.
I tried to get Mark to buy some grape plants (only five bucks a nice size plant) but he asked me to wait. He needs to build an arbor first for them to grow on. But who knows when he will get around to that? So, I’m thinking I might sneak out and buy six or 8 plants later this week and start them on a fence somewhere in the meantime. Without lime. Or with. I’ll ask. I am also planting some raspberry bushes near my blueberry bush. I want to make that area my berry haven. We took a drive around the land on the four-wheeler yesterday and we spotted all the dormant blackberry bushes. I asked Mark if I should feed them to assure sweeter berries this July but he said some plants grow best in harsh conditions and wild plants often happen to fall into this category. Feeding them might help them produce better. But it might hurt them too. Wholey moley, I’m paralyzed with the uncertainty. I’ve decided to let them be. If it ain’t broke . . ..
Anyway, so goes my venture into the world of gardening. I wish I could flash forward to reap the bounty now, but I know it will take a few years untill these plants are up and producing. At least we have begun. And I’m liking it. Lots. Mark better watch out cause once I learn what I am doing, he will be tripping over all kinds of things growing here and there and he’ll be thinking, “How did that get there?” Ha. He will be inundated with corny flowers and things bearing fruit everywhere- and he’ll be married to a woman cha cha cha-ing all over the place.
Because, I think I’m going to learn enough to be proficient at this. Like the bulbs, I just have to be patient . Seeds have been planted (in my head) and now, time and attention will help them take root. You see, in this chapter of my life, I’m gonna be a bloom’in gardener. It fits.
And for the record, no more eggs yet.