Digging dirt, humming on the deck | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Jun 15, 2018

Somehow, June is half over, and I have not prepared and planted the 15 or so pots on my deck. In the fall, I pulled up spent plants and left the pots to await spring, at which time I’d treat them to new potting soil and compost.

In May or early June, I’d refill each pot and get on with choosing and buying plants, humming as I tucked them into fresh earth.

Unfortunately, I neglected my late spring and early summer gardening tasks. It’s hard to say what diminished my enthusiasm. I’ve had other things on my mind – many of which I’d have dealt with much better if I’d spent less time eating chocolate and watching “Grey’s Anatomy” and more time digging in the dirt and humming.

One thing I did, though, was find a rubber-banded batch of old unopened seed packets, so one gray day I stuck some old seeds in last year’s dirt and forgot about them.

In any case, while I wasn’t paying attention, I believe a pleasant event took place on my small deck. Apparently, the remnants of last year’s plants got together and decided among themselves to do what they could to re-sprout and thrive without attention from their apparently no-longer-dedicated gardener. They also decided to invite some of my random outdated seeds to join them.

I noticed with slight interest as the volunteer sprouting and thriving began – no help from me. I often sat on the deck, watching gulls or wind in the trees or balancing a book and a cup of coffee. I just couldn’t summon interest in my flower pots.

But I had lots of time, right?

Then one sunny afternoon, I reluctantly put down the novel I was reading and inspected the pots I hadn’t been paying attention to. Indeed, they had been efficiently taking over some of the gardening tasks – the parts having to do with the sprouting and the thriving.

Heading into summer – no encouragement from me – my red, orange and white geraniums renewed themselves and grew huge; they now bear dozens of blossoms. Another volunteer? Schizanthus. I know. Schizanthus sounds like a sneeze, but it’s actually an annual flower known as the Poor Man’s Orchid.

I planted some last year, and two plants reappeared in May. Now 2 feet tall, clearly determined to please, they display hundreds of tiny orchid-like pink and lavender flowers.

Also enduring from last year, I noticed a curly corkscrew rush, which last fall appeared to be twisted dead grass. Another neglected pot already spills over with enough catnip to dry and stuff toys for every family cat. (I think there are 11 cats in my family!)

Also deciding to live without my early attention? Alyssum. Mint. Gazania. Oregano. Nicotiana. Even two petunias. I’m so glad those plants agreed among themselves to begin growing in last year’s exhausted soil. And the outdated flower seeds I carelessly stuck in the pots?

Nasturtium, dianthus, zinnia and bachelor button seedlings sprouted, obviously encouraged by the decision of last year’s plants to include them in their plan.

Yes, we had a mild winter, and it should be no great surprise that many plants volunteered to come back this year with no help from me. The thing is, even if it’s fiction, I quite like the notion that my plants from last year were looking out for me, figuring that if only they started growing and showing enthusiasm, I’d eventually notice and join them.

This week, I’m buying compost, potting soil and a few more plants. Finally, I’m eager to start digging in fresh earth, gardening, humming.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Vivian C Murray | Jun 17, 2018 13:04

What a lovely article to read on a Sunday afternoon. I think it is a good day to transplant a couple of plants and also tend my garden. After all, it’s a beautiful almost-summer day. Thank you, Joanne!

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