Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Gardens Three

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Most of my life, I've lived in the city. With the exception of seven years growing up, I've lived on tiny lots or in cramped apartments or dorms. But in third grade, during the first of my city years, I read The Secret Garden. Remember it? It profoundly affected me - as books can affect young girls - and all during adolescence I dreamed of a hedged, walled garden with a secret entrance.

Armed with that youthful desire, I tucked away The Secret Garden and bounded into my teen years enamored with Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Dickinson and Wharton were avid gardeners, and after devouring Emily Dickinson's Gardens, I became determined to have my garden, albeit with more of an Emily Dickinson style. But with a secret entrance, of course.

Then in my mid-20s, as I began to dig deeper and deeper (no pun intended), into the Bible, I emerged determined to plant a prayer garden.

Yikes. This Secret Garden/Emily Dickinson/Old and New Testament garden is gonna be a challenge. So I decided last week to disentangle the ideas and execute them one at a time, beginning simultaneously with the secret and prayer gardens.

But I realized very quickly my garden dreams came at a price. Literally. Have you been to Lowe's and checked plant prices lately? Sheesh! Fortuitously, I stumbled upon Farmgirl Fare (along with a few others), and learned of three reputable seed companies. I ordered seed in January, and Friday I mixed my own organic seed starting mix....

... and Saturday my Dad came over and brought me this seed tray contraption he designed and built himself. It holds eight large seed trays, and has suspended hooks for the hanging of grow lights over each tray. (Truly, my Dad is a genius)...

... And Sunday afternoon, I planted my seeds. I planted vegetables like summer squash and butternut squash and red "atomic" carrots. I planted more strawberries. I planted several tomatoes (one, called Black from Tula, turns black in the middle but is supposed to taste divine. I thought it would be hilarious to take my ex-off-Broadway neighbor a huge, ripe tomato and hear her scream when she cuts into the black, fleshy, center. Heh-heh.)

I also tucked herb seeds into the soil, and along with the usuals, like Thyme, I planted herbs like Hyssop and Sage and Dill and Mint, expressly to help fill the prayer garden. Yep, the east side of Freeman House gets great morning sun, and will make a great shady prayer garden, I think. I'm using only plants that are mentioned in the Bible (too bad that fig tree croaked), and have my eye on this great bench to hide among the plants. I can just see myself among the lilies and climbing roses and hyssop, drinking hot tea and casting my cares...

That is, when I'm not hiding and reading Dickinson in the secret/Dickinson garden.

But oh, is that ever far away. This morning, as I bounded in to check on the little seeds... which has until today amounted to nothing aside from staring at dirt, I was ecstatic to see that after THREE DAYS, I already have Thyme, Red Carrots, and Amish Paste Tomatoes unfurling themselves and yawning after a long, dormant sleep.

I can hardly sit. I'm quivering with excitement. Let the themed garden days begin!

And of course, you're all invited. I have every intention of opening the little gardens. Just know beforehand that you cannot talk in the prayer garden unless you're talking to the Almighty. (Meaning no cell phones.) And there is a strict no-romance-or-comic-books policy in the Dickinson garden. (Meaning only literature. Real literature.) And you must be happy and childlike... or at least content and not snobby... in the secret garden. (It's designed for the young or the young at heart, after all.) These are my rules. Enter as you may.


Okay, I'm off to work. Hope you have a wonderful day. And know that if tonight you hear squealing coming from the general direction of Texas, it's me. It will mean the hyssop has said hello.


Unknown said...

Go Dad!! I got my love of gardening from my Dad, and even though he is no longer here, I know he is tending to the gardens in heaven and smiling down on me and mine! I'll be anxious to see the garden once planted and blooming, just be careful of the mint, it will take over! Enjoy!

Deb said...

What an amazing seed starter your Dad made you .
I love the idea of your "theme" gardens, and having a little bench hidden among the plants ...and a prayer garden - how fantastic.
Just found your blog - enjoying it very much & looking forward to returning.

Mary L. Briggs said...

Wow. Great post. I'm so looking forward to seeing all your gardens--especially the prayer garden. Your dad is a genious!--what a neat seed starter.