Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

I wish I had a green thumb.

I wish I was the kind of person who plants things in the ground and “poof,” magic happens. Instead, I seem to be the kind of person who plants things in the ground and “blah,” compost happens.

I get that I could probably learn how to be a better gardener and, in the past, I have made a few tentative steps in that direction. I took some books out of the library, I tried as hard as I could to remember the difference between an annual and a perennial, and I even tried to figure out what those three numbers on the side of the fertilizer container mean.

I tried. I really did.

But then I realized that I didn’t want to try. I didn’t want it to be yet another thing that feels like work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with work. I get that we appreciate things more when we have to work for them and yadda, yadda, yadda but just once I would like to discover something I’m good at without having to work for it.

I don’t just want to have a green thumb, I want to have an effortless green thumb. I want to be the fairy godmother of blossoms instead of the angel of death.

One of my favourite flowers has always been the hydrangea. If you don’t know what they look like, here’s something to give you an idea.


Photo: Better Homes and Gardens

Essentially they are big balls of blossoms, some of them even bigger than my face. They come in dozens of different colours, each seemingly more beautiful than the last. I love them. I could be in the biggest funk of all funks and just looking at them makes me smile. To me, they are huge explosions of happiness.

When we moved into our house I knew one of the first things I had to do was plant one in our backyard. We have a big enough flower bed to fit one and I had visions of planting one after another after another until the whole backyard was filled with beautiful balls of happiness. I could see myself standing among them, effortlessly stylish in practical yet pretty rain boots and gloves, a wide brimmed hat finishing off my “gardening goddess” look.

I could see no possible fault in my plan. It was going to turn out exactly as I envisioned. Nothing else in my life ever had but I figured that just meant the universe owed me one.

Two days later my ‎hydrangea looked as though every last ounce of life had been sucked out of it with a straw. The once gorgeous balls of happiness hung lifeless and drooping in the dirt.

I was crushed.

I waited almost a whole year before trying again. I reasoned with myself that it had been the wrong time of year last time, planted in the middle of the summer heat. That was it, purely bad timing, and not at all an indication of my horrific lack of ‎ability to nurture a living thing.

So ‎I tried again and this time I planted in the spring, the first warm rays of sun just warm enough to encourage growth without the risk of dehydration. My hopes were high, that vision of me as the gardening goddess was once again taking form in my head.

Three days later I was stuffing the carcass of yet another dead hydrangea into the yard waste bag.

Forget the fact that‎ I have assisted in the creation of two actual human beings, both of which I literally grew and incubated in my own body, something about not being able to get these flowers to last more than a handful of days was doing ridiculous things to my self esteem.

I vowed I would never try again, so certain that my fragile ego couldn’t take another fruitless trip to the garden centre and the devastation that would surely follow. Instead I aimed smaller, ‎planting a tiny ivy in a tiny pot and placing it on the ledge of my laundry room window. ‎Perhaps big balls of happiness were just too much to expect. Maybe small green leaves of mediocrity were where I needed to set my sights.

And so I did just that and pretended I was content with it. That was, until the hydrangeas once again started appearing in all of the garden centres. It was like they were tormenting me, taunting me with their beauty and pointing fingers (if they had fingers I knew they would be pointed) at my lack of nurturing abilities.

Then I had an epiphany of sorts. I decided that the fault lay not with me, or the time of year or the plants, no, the fault was with the dirt! That must be it! There must be something in the soil of the particular flower bed I was planting them in that was the cause of their almost immediate demise. Give me two minutes and a narrowly plausible excuse and I will find some way to turn things around.

So the weekend before last my hubby bought me not one but two beautiful hydrangeas. I’m not sure that he was so much “on board” with the idea that planting them in a flower bed ten steps away from where their brethren had died such immediate deaths was actually a good solution, but I think he thought dropping $30 was worth it so I would stop talking about it, at least for a few days.

It’s now been one week and two days. One week and two days since I dug two little holes and placed their roots gently in the ground. One week and two days since I lovingly smoothed the dirt around their ‎stems and softly brushed the drops of dew from their petals.

And this is what they look like today. One week and two days later.

IMG_20140522_180329    IMG_20140522_180335

It has not been effortless and I’m certainly a long way from the gardening goddess I had envisioned but they’re still alive and beautiful, and for right now that’s enough.  For right now I will cherish my own balls of happiness and keep my fingers crossed that they stick around for a while longer.

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The purple ones

What’s wrong with this picture?

I’m trying to do better, really I am.

I’m trying to see the forest for the trees, and smell the roses, and breath deeply, and express gratitude, and on and on and on.

I’m trying, really.

And I think I’m doing better, I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Until the day I come up my front path and notice that my tulips have blossomed.  For one single moment I feel all of those emotions that I’m trying to feel.  I feel peace and happiness and contentment and gratitude.

And then I realize that the stupid purple ones are growing in the wrong place.





I know I should just relax and let it go.  I’m sure no one else notices.  I’m sure everyone else just walks by and thinks how pretty the tulips are.  I’m sure they’re happier and more content and more relaxed than me because I just can’t let it go.

For a couple of minutes I actually consider digging them up and moving them around so the colours are more evenly distributed.

Welcome to life in my head.

I didn’t dig them up though.  I just left them.  I realize I should look at this as an opportunity for growth.  I should use this as a lesson in how life is not meant to be perfect and how I need to learn to accept the bad along with the good.  I understand that I should turn this into one of Oprah’s “ah ha” moments and write a book about it.

But I can’t.

Instead, every time I walk up the path I see the stupid purple tulips that are all lumped together.


If you listen very closely, you can hear a faint chuckle dancing on the breeze.

It’s the universe.

And it’s laughing at me.

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My default shade is, by definition, pale. Pale as the sheet hanging on the clothing line, pale as the mashed potatoes sitting in the bowl. Pale.

In the summer months the pale sometimes goes from pasty to semi-deathly and I have learned to live with it. The sun is not my friend, although I continue to try.

This past weekend it was sunny and hot every day. I spent one full day of it sitting beside a swimming pool, playing peek-a-boo with the sun’s glaring rays. I had on SPF 50. I thought I would be okay.

I was wrong.

If SPF 50 means I can stay out in the sun 50 times longer than without it, apparently my skin can last unslathered for approximately 45 seconds. In less than an hour I was pink, and then pinker and then the pinkest.

I spent the evening making ‘oh’ ‘ouch’ ‘eech’ sounds when pulling on my pants and grimacing, hopefully unnoticed, whenever someone hugged me. Welcome to the summer Mrs. Pasty.

I thought I had learned my lesson the next day when I suited up to do some gardening. Hat? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Pants and shirt that cover yesterday’s burns? Check. Good to go.

Four hours later I couldn’t figure out why the skin on my lower back was hurting when my pants rubbed on it. I contorted myself in the mirror to try and see what the issue was. What the?

How did I get sunburned down there??

After pondering for a few minutes I figured out that when I was bending over the flower bed a ‘window’ of opportunity must have opened up between the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt. Classic. You’ve heard of a farmer’s tan? Apparently I have now invented gardener’s tan which is 10 times less funny. Good thing plumber’s do their work indoors or this would be a definite occupational hazard.

So as I head off to work today, uncomfortable and achy, I am officially now a pinker shade of pale, even in places that, in theory, never see the light of day. Happy summer everyone!

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