Monday, May 3, 2010
I know spring’s official date was March 20th and Easter has come and gone and according to the fashion rules of the 1960s it’s now OK to wear white shoes. But for me, until I plant flowers, it’s not really spring. So instead of cleaning out my kitchen cabinets as I had originally planned, yesterday I planted flowers.
Every year when I dig in the dirt I think of my friend Pardner. Pardner lived to celebrate her 100th birthday and was one of the smartest women ever. She planted and cared for the thousands of flowers at the summer camp where we worked for 20 years. When I met Pardner she was planting and watering and I was young and curious. Her flowerbeds were stunning so I asked one day what her tricks were for a green thumb.
Wise people are usually generous in sharing the knowledge they’ve collected through the years. We just fail to ask questions. I sat down on a rock to listen. Her long answer reminded me of asking my grandmother how to make her Thanksgiving dressing; add sage until you can smell it.
Then she stopped digging, brushed a wild strand of hair out of her eyes and said, “It all really boils down to just a few things. Always pinch off the bottom of the roots when you take the plant out of the container.” I don’t know why, because I never asked. I should have. “Put water in the hole before you put the plant in the dirt and water every day unless it rains. Oh, and pinch off the dead heads. That’s all you need to remember, Dah’lin.” When she smiled her eyes crinkled.
I’ve always followed Pardner’s advice and my flowers last until the first frost every year.
There’s something so organic about planting flowers, like it’s something we’re all supposed to do. Digging in the dirt and getting messy and soggy is therapeutic in an odd sort of a way. It’s as if you are doing something not only for yourself, but for others to enjoy too.
It’s officially spring because the flowers are planted. Now I’ll have to find my white shoes.