These are branches from the forsythia bushes I planted with my dad the summer before Frankie was born. I was 7 months pregnant, so my dad dug the holes and I stuffed them into the ground. Usually when I plant a tree or bush, I go all crazy about making sure I've dug the hole twice as wide as the root ball and, for bushes anyway, I work some compost into the subsoil and do all that anal gardener stuff. My dad's garden philosophy,on the other hand, might be summarized as, "Poke it in the ground. If it lives, it should be there. If it dies, then it wasn't meant to be. Plant something else." It was really bugging me just to plunk these bushes in those tiny holes with only our stiff clay surrounding their new little roots. But I was rather large and sweaty and experiencing the second wave of nausea that accompanies my pregnancies, so I was really in no position to argue. Plus, these tiny little bushes had been given to us by a friend, whose own huge forsythia bushes could not stop having babies all over his yard. They needed a new home, and quickly.
Again because I was pregnant, we had hired some neighborhood boys to mow the lawn for the summer (Joerg is exquisitely allergic to grass). I marked the bushes, but they were so tiny that they went under the mower several times. I didn't think those bushes had a chance, which was too bad, because we were all tired of looking at the chain-link fence.
Of course the forsythia bushes have gone crazy after just one full summer of growth. I'm even going to have to do some serious pruning once the bloom is off. Amazing how hard it can be to kill plants outside. The bush I planted with such tender loving care the first summer we moved here, a very hardy viburnum, looked for all the world like a dead dead dead collection of sticks for its first two summers. I have no idea what I did to the poor thing. I cut it back completely to the ground at one point, tired of having its brown, curled leaves depressing me everytime I pulled into the driveway, but now it's back and growing well.
Last summer I tried seed growing for the first time, but not with the whole seed trays and lights on chains business. No, just the "throw the seed on the ground, water, and see what happens" approach. I got a ton of weeds growing, which I didn't know to pull until they were huge and covered with stickers and thorns, but we also got some lovely surprises all summer long. Annika loved it.
And I definitely see why so many writers pull huge life lessons from their gardens; why so many of the reflective minds that I enjoy so much have been avid gardeners. Those lessons just stare you in the face every spring as you begin contemplating what to do this season with your environmental work-in-progress. For me, anyway, I need to spend less time obsessing over stupid details and just try to find the stuff that works where I'm trying to put it. It never should be as hard as I try to make it. I'm not very good at developing and articulating a personal philosophy. But there were those crazy forsythia bushes giving the lie to all my perfectionist attempts at soil control, and it's not so hard to make a leap from that to life in general, so I decided to give it a try. I blame it on all the sunshine today.