It is pretty common knowledge that here in the Midwest annuals are not planted until after Mother’s Day. Some smart gardeners — this does not include me — wait until after Memorial Day.
The reason is simple: even though the days are quickly becoming harbingers of the beautiful, warm weather to come, a late frost has often made its presence known to the detriment of all newly planted flora.
In those circumstances you find everyone covering their seedlings and hoping for a good outcome. Again, not me.
I think that since my gardening skills are mediocre at best, making the plants tough it out through the last of the frostbitten nights is my subconscious way of preparing them for summer with me — the nascent gardener.
Although I’m in my 24th year as a beginning gardener, I have found out that I am an eternal optimist when it comes to the idea of gardening. And I admit that I like the accouterments, especially my straw hat. Actually, a straw hat and eye gear; I now always wear something to protect my eyes since last year when a branch swung back and hit me in the eye, causing me to have to wear a patch for a few days.
My real gardening optimism became apparent when my husband and I bought the lot for our home many years ago. There were a couple of barely-surviving transplanted saplings on the property that made my heart ache they were so pitiful looking. Every day I would drive to the lot with huge buckets of water and pour them on the wilted, dying stick-trees. I was positive that what I was doing was giving the trees a fighting chance and I liked the challenge. I was completely optimistic in their probability for survival with my loving care being the key factor.
Of course the one tree on the lot that was huge — massive really — and could have withstood all sorts of weather and any care or neglect from me was growing exactly in the middle of the lot and had to be taken down to make room for our house.
Nonetheless, fifteen years later the dying stick-trees, although not robust, still stand.
Although maybe they mostly stand as a reminder of the fact that I used to be able to carry huge buckets of water without my back going out. Who knows?
So, with Mother’s Day around the corner, and Memorial Day just a month away, all our stores here in Michigan are starting to showcase their annual and perennial wares. And I’ve begun my yearly walk around the displays envisioning how beautiful my yard will be one day when I get the whole gardening thing down to a science — or an art; either one will suffice.
I do this yearly ritual knowing that for all of my married life — 24 years and counting — mostly I end up relying on a few hanging pots and planting an extra arborvitae to add to the privacy in my backyard.
But still I dream.
I am convinced that at some point in time my garden will look exactly like one of those gardens in the magazines where all the tall flowers are in back and the shorter flowers are in front. You know what I mean. And throughout the year colors will continue to bloom so that at no point in time will there be just a bunch of brown, crunchy plants.
Until my garden reaches that point of perfection, I persevere. Spring brings that out in me and I enjoy starting anew with the belief that this will be the year that my yard will be transformed.
As I walked the local Farmer’s Market today I realized that for Catholics, Easter Season is just like my gardening experience. We are renewed by our baptismal promises during Easter Mass and look ahead with great optimism and hope. We understand that the journey is one of anticipation and promise and find great joy in that knowledge; we know that we will ultimately experience perfection when we reach our heavenly home. But until that time, we persevere with the promise of what is possible.
Happy Spring! Happy Easter!