Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gardens I Have Known: Part 1

My first garden was, and this may be typical of many gardeners, my parents' garden.  There were four large raised beds that were filled with vegetables during the warm months, a bed dedicated to herbs nearby, a decent bit of lawn with a good hill for rolling down, several fruit trees which occasionally produced, and some rather over grown flower beds.  It will probably always be, in my mind, a significant part of the way gardens are supposed to be.

Shortly after my family moved into a new house with a large backyard that I became involved in our yard.  You see, other than the lawn, there was no yard when we moved in.  Immediately my father began sculpting the weeds and dirt into the picturesque space it is now and from the start I worked along side him.  I learned about laying sod, breaking concrete, mowing and pruning from my father.

A few years later my mother allowed me to have one of the vegetable beds, provided I weeded and watered it.  Every year the idea that I could plant whatever I wanted excited me for a couple of weeks until the heat of the summer curbed my enthusiasm.  Usually a pumpkin vine would survive my neglect and produce a few puny squash to sit on our stoop during the autumn months.  While I may not have learned diligence or, really, many horticultural skills from those summer crops, I did develop a need to plant things, a positive addiction to getting my hands dirty each spring.

In this garden I butchered and killed a couple of rosemary plants as I tried to make "bonsai".  This garden provided countless beetles, lizards, and tomato worms that I tried to keep as pets.  In this garden I figured out how to crush  yucca leaves and strip the fibers to make rope.  The trellis, covered in trumpet vine, which I climbed up to hid and think about things was in this garden.

Of course, this garden isn't really in my past.  If I am over for dinner during the summer, I still get to sit in the garden and taste it's produce.  I acquire mint and oregano from that herb garden, daylilies from one of the flower beds.  I have a maple sapling rooted in one of the vegetable beds that, if it survived my absence and the winter, I will dig up and try to train into a bonsai with my brother later this month.  And I still get roped into doing some mowing or pruning occasionally.

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