Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gardening ... or the Lack Thereof

Usually April and May find me puttering in my garden, clearing away the dead and frozen stalks and foliage from our mountain plants and planting seeds and new six-packs of dianthus, pansies, violas, and stocks. I'm usually outside watering every day it doesn't rain, trying to make up for our mere 18 inches of annual rainfall, or else I'm trimming back rose branches, chopping dead hollyhock stalks that I allow to go to seed in the autumn and winter, clearing away the pine straw around my lavender plants.

But not this spring.

I'm not really certain what happened. I love gardening as much as ever. Actually, I should rephrase that last sentence: I love the idea of gardening as much as ever. I have only planted my front porch pots this spring, and I did that back in early February, and now that the sun beats down with relentless afternoon heat, the cool-loving pansies and stocks are rapidly shriveling and browning, fading by the minute right before my eyes. And that's the extent of my spring gardening.

Why have I neglected one of my favorite activities? I ask myself the same question as I peer out the window beside my desk at the tangle of unpruned roses and wildly out-of-control onithera (Mexican primrose). I have been in more pain than usual this spring, the result of stress and busy-ness. But even if I had been feeling better, I'm not sure I would have taken the precious time to work outside. Too much work needs to be done -- writing, grading, teaching, homeschooling, facilitating online classes, tutoring, keeping up web sites and blogs, keeping the house running on a somewhat-regular schedule, etc. I simply haven't had the time (or the money, to be truthful) to invest in gardening.

However, with school waning (our final day is June 12), I really won't have too much of an excuse. Yes, I have a busy, busy summer ahead of me with facilitating Brave Writer at the Movies, proofreading language arts subscriptions for Julie, and perhaps working my class lectures into book form. I also would like to work on my other writing projects as well. And we want to go to the beach ... LOTS.

I miss digging my hands into the cool, loamy earth. I miss arranging colors in my flower beds, and watering them, watching them grow day by day. The interview I did on Monday with Lori at the nearby Guatay Mountain Nursery for our local paper, The Valley Views also enticed me into the spirit of gardening. As I questioned Lori, a Cal-Poly trained horticulturist and expert on native plants of San Diego, I felt my fingers almost itching to work the ground. I have so many things I would LOVE to do with our garden if money weren't such a concern (along with my physical limitations). I would love to rid ourselves of our front "lawn" and plant wildflowers with little gravel or brick paths running through them. I would love to add flower beds along the northern fence and a vegetable garden (raised beds to keep out the critters) south of the driveway.

Sigh. Well, once school is out, I am going to get outside with clippers in hand and trim back roses and hollyhocks, remove dead lavender stalks so the new ones have room to grow, and see if my peppermint patch took over the entire herb garden. It will be worth the aching muscles and stiff neck to get back to work in my garden, even if I can only work in it for twenty minutes per day unless I want a pain-fest to last for several days....

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