Monday, March 12, 2012

Peonies, Pansies, Renunculus...Oh My!!!

Do you get spring fever? I never really have. Living in a place that often feels like the surface of the sun I relish winter. I love the short, cold days, the holidays and I suppose, if I’m laying it all out there, because my husband is home. However, the past year has been unlike any other in my life and I am welcoming any new beginning I can find. It seemed like the first and most logical step in deciding to welcome spring with open arms was to plant flowers.

Planting flowers or anything in the desert really, is a challenge for me. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb, its more brownish – like the color of dead leaves. I don’t have a great track record with keeping plants alive despite the fact that I am descended from a long line of successful gardeners. I enjoy gardening and LOVE a beautiful garden and can really appreciate the beauty of plants and flowers. I just cant seem to keep them alive. I decided to give it a go anyway. One thing I have realized is that I have to give up on planting varieties I see in magazines or those I remember from growing up in northern California. I have to stop fighting the desert and go with it. I also realized that this time of year Home Depot puts out all the plants that will actually thrive in our climate. Quite a revelation, I know. On top of that, all the plants come with little markers that tell you where they like to be planted and how they liked to be cared for. Ingenious!

So I drug my husband and kids to the Depot and wandered the isles, for what probably seemed to them like an eternity, until I found the right plants, colors and prices that would satisfy my new spring fever. I had also decided that instead of trying to make my little desert garden look like northern California I needed to appreciate all the southwest has to offer and chose succulents to make a nice little “ode to the desert” garden vignette. Back at home Gracie, Max and I slapped on gardening gloves and got to work on our flower design plan. Adding new potting soil to all the pots we watered each with a tiny, children’s watering can so as not to splash all the soil out with the hose. We sat back and admired our work amazed at how gorgeously peonies, pansies, renunculus and asylum compliment each other.

I came home the next day to find a fabulous gift of a new lime green (which I adore) watering can and garden sheers. My husband has always been thoughtful but I suspect he was also trying to do his part in keeping our investment from withering away. And he might have been tired of hearing me complain about having to fill up the tiny watering can a dozen times to water everything. But that is just a theory.

Later that week I chaperoned my son’s 4th grade trip to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Having taught 4th grade for many years this was not my first time visiting. However, I was fascinated by all I learned that day about the desert and its abundance of plants. My fascination was probably due to the fact I was suddenly trying to acquire a green thumb and because I got to be a mom instead of a teacher. I soaked it all in like dry soil and took a ridiculous number of photographs. Max and my little troupe of some of the coolest kids I have ever met, which is saying a lot from a veteran teacher, explored the trails, naming a multitude of plants, cacti and flowers. We were all overjoyed at coming upon butterflies and the rare site of a humming bird nest full of babies. You would have thought it was my field trip with the way I went on and on about what we had learned over dinner that night. I had picked up a tiny cactus, called Hen and Chicks (which I chose from the seemingly hundreds available because I thought the name was hilarious) to add to my succulent garden. As well as Arizona wild flower seed packets to sprinkle in the back yard. I was so taken by the way Mexican Poppies grow willy nilly all around the arboretum grounds that I wanted to try to replicate it at home. After almost a week of watering nothing has sprouted but I am still hopeful.

I have changed so much over the past year that I have to relearn myself step by step. It feels sort of like experiencing adolescence again, when we discover new things about the world that peak our interest and shape who we are. I am realizing that there are things that bring me joy and peace which I have had little interest in previously. Gardening and being outside in the quiet with my thoughts is so therapeutic now. Even pulling weeds in our yard isn’t the tedious task it used to be, which seems a little disturbing. I will keep you posted on how my garden grows. Pray for me that my brownish thumb transforms a bit.

Peonies, Pansies, Renunculus, Iclandic Poppies and Asylum
Succulent garden - the little cacuts is Hen & Chicks, named for the little sprouts that grow off the sides.

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