Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Secret Garden

Not mine, but someday...

It's Spring, and I want to plant things. When I owned my own home I would start a variety of plants on the covered back porch and transplant them to a prepared place in the back yard where I made my garden. Before that, my grandfather had planted his garden in that spot, so after he died I took the task upon myself, with a few changes.

I double dug the entire plot, by hand. Having attended some Wes Jackson workshops in Colorado at the Windstar Foundation and being the proud owner of several Rodale books on organic gardening, I felt inspired. It was a lot of work, but I soldiered on. In the process I found some wonderful tulip bulbs and the remains of one of our many pet cats who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge long ago...I guess I shouldn't have moved that big rock after all. I reverently re-interred the bones of our ancient Siamese in a nice cigar box I found in the basement on Pop's workbench, set the rock back in place and moved on to another section of the plot...where I proceeded to disinter the bones of another cat...and what appeared to be a dog. We never had a dog who died at home. Allowing paranoia to blossom just a bit, I retreated to the house to fix myself a glass of iced tea. Maybe I should hop on the computer and check to see if we were related in any way to Stephen King since the garden had turned into Pet Semitary( ).

After mustering the strength and intestinal fortitude to dig a three foot deep trench at the back corner of the garden, I carefully removed all of the animal bones and relocated them to their new resting place. Then I made a quick trip to Home Depot for a bag of Quick Crete and some medium sized granite rocks; after two more trips I had enough rocks to build a permanent cairn which became the anchor for a low stone wall to enclose the garden turned archaeological dig. Happily, I can report there were no more remains of deceased creatures of any type found while I finished the double digging.
I bet P. Allen Smith never had this happen during any of his gardening exploits...and I hope the people I sold the house to five years later aren't reading this blog.

While I was still channeling my inner gardener, I moved my grandmother's favorite lilac bush and put in a companion bush at the other side of the opening. Two weeks later I began seeding corn and transplanting tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash. I was thrilled when it all thrived and grew and less thrilled when my work schedule changed three weeks later and the whole thing turned into an overgrown weed patch dotted with vegetables. Things began to spill over the stone wall. Maybe I the whole Pet Semitary thing wasn't so far-fetched after all....

As I mentioned, I sold the house a few years later and  moved to an apartment where I had an herb garden in the kitchen window. It wasn't the same as the one in the back yard of the house (no dead animals!) but it was enough to satisfy my urge to feel the soil between my fingers. Re-purposing a long bread basket which I lined with heavy plastic and potting soil I managed to get several crops of thyme, basil, parsley and sage before I added another pot filled with dill and some ivy, which I managed to train up a length of chicken wire nailed to the wall inside the window. On a trip to Walmart I found some painted pot-sitter birds, a turtle, a squirrel and a frog to decorate my indoor garden, which managed to expand to another planter on the windowsill in the dining room where  grew a number of other herbs, tomatoes and flowers. Smelling the damp earth in the pots helped me forget that I was living on the sixth floor of a high rise and put the fantastic Southeastern exposure and morning sunlight I received to good use.

Soon every windowsill was filled with a couple long, low planters from which plants, herbs and miniature vegetables sprouted. I used vegetable parings and eggshells to make compost tea in the blender and gave everything a shot a couple times a month. What began as an herb garden in the kitchen windowsill became a lush green oasis. Careful tending and multiple re-plantings keep every planted filled and green year-round. The few thin spots during the winter months were augmented with some artfully placed artificial flowers.

The highlight of my adventures of indoor gardening came when I managed to grow six full-sized stalks of Indian Corn in a container on the floor in a corner of my bedroom...which produced ten multicolored ears right before Autumn.  Happy? I was ecstatic! I wanted to have the Greenman over for tea.

That all came to a dramatic screeching halt when I moved to North Carolina. I was no longer in my own place, so the windowsill gardening ceased. My household has been reduced down to a single room in cramped quarters. The only thing leafy and green are a couple of dusty silk plants sitting on a bookcase. The windowsills are empty...for now. This morning  the faeries visited and I had a vision of an herb garden growing in each of the windowsills. Once again I am inspired. I know the Green man lives here too...perhaps I can entice him over for tea soon.


  1. How pretty.

    I enjoy gardening and it has been a long time since I delved into it. Now I have two springs to do it here. :)

  2. You never move a big rock in a garden! lol I've grown things compulsively all my life. This morning, I looked out as Arrow curled his fluffy black body into my pot of returning oregano! I had 3 crystal clusters in that pot as a deterrent and he ignored them. I quickly ran out and put the pot of mugwort into the oregano pot - I guess my adventures are moving in line with VERTICAL gardening now! lol We may have to move in the next month and I can see me trying to carry my fig trees, bay, lemon tree and blueberries to some shelter. It's gonna be a trick for sure!


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