I have always had a messy garden. I could never bring myself to “thin out” seedlings. I felt bad for them…they had gone to all the trouble to sprout and who was I to pluck them out and not let them realize their potential.
Because of my decision/non-decision, I would feel cramped in my own garden, unable to get to the fruits of my efforts to further enjoy their taste, their nutrition, because I had left no walkways. I would tiptoe around reaching, reaching to get the tomatoes, but not squish the basil, but worry that all that ground cover was harboring snakes…kind of like the way I go through life.
It’s not that this way of gardening was without its benefits. It certainly wasn’t labor intensive, and I saw amazing things growing…like an oak tree from an acorn some animal had dropped. An oak tree is not productive to a vegetable garden…it is a heavy feeder and eventually, if left unchecked, would crowd out any potential for growth of other plants.
I had planted mint a few years ago, all the while knowing it was an invasive plant At the time, I was writing my childhood memoir, and my favorite grandmother was heavy on my mind and my heart. She always had mint on a hillside and would bring it in to make mint tea, sweetened heavily with white sugar…in the middle of summer, sweating in a house with no air conditioning…her sweet memory and tears left unshed. When will I ever stop missing her? A plant that survives with “runners” will always spread. I knew it would happen, but I thought perhaps not to me. Kind of like the way I go through life.
My grandmother would not want me to be strangled by memory or by mint. I will pull it all up and pot it. It will still come up periodically in my garden…as a reminder perhaps that something invasive, is always invasive and that left unchecked, will take over. Besides, it is growing with the scallions, and mint tinged with onion tastes gross. “Onion mint” is gross…bad combination, kind of like a bad relationship left to continue. No matter how long you let it go on, it still tastes gross.
Yesterday, I began to make mulch walkways. I began to make borders and boundaries…I am ¾ finished. I feel like I can breathe in there. I was always afraid in the past, that if I did that, I would feel restricted and tied down. I don’t, I feel free, I feel potential…where in my life do I need walkways, borders and boundaries?
Last year, I had to cut back my beloved lavender plants because of frost damage from a difficult winter. I was afraid that I would kill them with the pruning. This year, they are back, and new growth in the middle of the plant is evident. So, pruning back in life, that which is dead, allows for the impetus to grow from the middle, eh?
My peas are up. Last year, I let the weeds take over and only peas grew at the top of the pea plants where I could not reach them because of my double frozen shoulders. So, yet again, I could SEE the prize, but could not get to it…self imposed disappointment.
Now, I am sure there are those that are reading this writing, saying, “Yeah, you can attach symbolism to anything, and it’s all left to interpretation”. True enough, but isn’t that how life works? Isn’t it all a matter of perception and interpretation?
Will my life change because I made courageous borders and breathing room for my plants? Will I weed out the things that aren’t working in my life as I weed out and thin plants that aren’t letting others grow? I don’t know. But, as we all know, if we keep doing the same thing, the outcome will stay the same.
I just know that when I went out to water the peas this morning, they are all bright green, with foliage low and high. I can see what I have, I can see what needs to be done, and what I pulled up yesterday, is already turning to compost with happy insects buzzing around and in the big pile.
Now, on to the last ¼ of the garden and the second ½ of my life.