This time of the year I become obsessed with growing things. By that I don’t mean just planting seeds to watch them grow – although that is a big part of it. What I am blown away by is this wondrously magical serge of growth bursting from every living thing. Here is the north the winters are long, cold and hard. Everything that grows in nature stops to rest. The world turns brown then white and takes on a distinct aura of death. Then little by little the snow recedes and the green returns in a magical explosion of rebirth. The hope and power of life wins again.
I’m spending a lot of time in my gardens. Because I have only lived here a couple years there are many bare spots that I’m constantly itching to fill. I’ve planted seeds bought from various stores and mail order catalogs and purchased plants from local garden nurseries but the thing I’m enjoying the most is the gifting of plants from family and friends. Everyone is aware of my obsession and to feed it they have cheerfully given me plants from their own gardens. Some of these plants would have found their way to the trash or compost heap like the ivy I received from a friend while visiting her on the day she was ripping it out of her garden bed in order to plant flowers in its place. I planted them all, about thirty vines, and was thrilled to see that three of them made it and have already developed new growth. Some folks would think the ivy planting was a failure because only three of thirty lived but I see it as a victory. In a few short years those three little plants will spread and cover the shady ground on the north side of my house. This is also how I acquired some cone flower plants and irises, saving them from the trash heap when my daughter aggressively thinned out her crowded flower beds. And at my son’s house there is lily of the valley to dig up that has invaded an area he wants it out of.
I have ten acres of woods but only one small evergreen, a hemlock which I can’t even see from my house. Again, there is an obsession – get more evergreens! My youngest daughter surprised me on my birthday with three baby pines that she dug up on her own eighty acres of mostly pines. Two of the three not only survived but have new chartreuse tips sprouting all over them. Then on Mother’s Day, rather than mow it down, her husband dug up and brought me another baby pine that is also sprouting new life.
Anyone who gardens becomes use to the fact that not everything you plant lives. I currently have to water the afore mentioned cone flowers twice a day or they wilt and threaten to die. Not all the seeds I put into the soil will grow to be adults; a lot of them will never even sprout and some of them will become bird food. That just makes the ones that make it even more precious.
When I look out over a vast green field or a cool shady forest or any of my gardens the first thing that comes to mind is LIFE – so much of it! And so intent on staying alive! But I know through experience that there is a whole lot of death going on out there as well. It’s not a bad thing. The things that die will become food for the living or have actually died in order to become food. After all, that’s what vegetable gardens are all about. This cycle continues unendingly. Life always follows death just as death always follows life. Through this enormous example Mother Earth is teaching us something very profound and beautiful; nothing ever truly dies because life is the original and continuing nature of all things.