To say that gardening has never been my forte is a massive piece of understatement; I’ve hated it for most of my life, and have gone to great lengths to avoid it. I’ve never even cared much for house plants; they’ve never survived much longer than a week or two under my care. As a kid when it was my turn to water my mom’s yearly attempt at a garden I usually just stood outside with the hose running for a few minutes before going back to whatever I had happily been doing inside. I realize now this may be part of the reason why her gardens never survived for very long. As an adult I usually managed to rent places where the yard work and maintenance were the responsibility of the landlord. It didn’t matter that it cost a little more, I thought it was well worth the money. In my defense, I’ve always suffered from terrible seasonal allergies, am pasty, pale white, so burn in practically no time, and have always had a serious aversion to dirt and bugs. It just didn’t seem like gardening would combine well with me. I love to cook and bake, so I’m not a total loss domestically. But as they say, “the only constant is change”.
My husband (who hates the heat, which in his world is anything warmer than about seventy-five degrees, and by extension hates yard work, since it requires him to be out in the heat) and I bought our first home on September 30, 2010. Fortunately, at that time of year, there isn’t much yard work or gardening to be done here. Even better for us, the sellers had done a lot with the yard in an effort to get the place sold, so other than upkeep on what was already here, there wasn’t much that had to be done. We also had the sense to realize that people such as ourselves are happier with very small yards. Our plan was just to maintain what was already here. Well, we were hit with a wide range of problems, all of which I’m told are fairly common, in that first year. We barely kept the grass cut. I made a few half-hearted attempts at weeding, though I’m pretty sure I did more harm than good; we seem to have an abundance of weeds and appear to be missing some plants and flowers from last year. My “tug and see what happens; if it comes out easily, it’s probably a plant so put it back, if it’s stubborn, yank it out” method probably wasn’t the best for identifying plants versus weeds.
The yard began to look kind of sad. As spring approached (so quickly this year) we decided that we’d have to do something about the yard. This year we would do better than barely keeping the grass cut. All of our neighbors have nicely maintained, pretty yards. We saw the possibility for ours.
Fortunately, my husband’s grandmother is an avid gardener. Their yard is beautiful; she enjoys gardening, and is a wealth of knowledge. She came over and walked the yard with us; we determined what was beyond saving and needed to be pulled up, which areas needed more plants, and what needed attention most. She taught us how to trim and dead head, and pointed out which things were weeds and which were not. We also determined what to do with the very odd rock circle in the front yard. I’m not sure what the original idea was, but it’s a roughly three foot circle of rocks that have been cemented together. There was nothing planted in it when we moved in, and it looks sort of odd to have a rock circle with just grass in your front yard.
The rock circle is now the beginning of my herb garden. Grand Mommy suggested it because she said it gets the right amount of sun for an herb garden, and since I enjoy cooking so much an herb garden might interest me more. I think she was too polite to say, but thought that it might have a better chance of survival if I equated it with cooking rather than gardening. So began my herb garden.
We used a technique she calls lasagna gardening; you layer newspapers over the grass in the area you want to plant and then pour bagged soil on top of that, and then plant in that. It’s supposed to be an easier way to get started for those of us who aren’t enthusiasts. We have planted oregano, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and garlic chives (something I’d never even heard of before). As you can see in the picture, they’re all still alive. They’re coming up on four weeks, which is a new record for me. We will be adding more this year, but I am told we will need to wait until a little later this month, as it still gets pretty cold at night right now.
I have also done some weeding and trimming, and a little more planting; irises, a money plant, and grape hyacinth. I have actually enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. Gardening doesn’t bring me the same pleasure that baking a cake for loved ones or concocting a wonderful new dish does, but I have to say there is something deeply satisfying about it. Maybe it’s because the yard belongs to us, or maybe I’m a little more open to new things now. I’m really not sure. I just know that there is something deeply satisfying on an almost elemental level about digging in the dirt, in my own yard with the sun warming me, and planting herbs that I will later use in my kitchen.