A couple of years ago, I started to read the Outlander series, and I started a herb garden.
Well, it wasn’t only because of Outlander. I was also reading Jack Monroe’s Cooking On A Bootstrap blog, and they mentioned how much they liked having fresh herbs at their disposal. Having been long intrigued by the idea of a wee balcony garden, I got started…and maybe I went a little overboard.
That was from last year. There was a massive sale on petunias at Home Depot. Plus I had dill, catnip, lemon balm, lavender, once I tried to grow zucchinis, I did manage to grow brussels sprouts – or at least, I managed the leaves, which are also edible. There was an effort to make a strawberry fountain. And parsley – parsley, which I rarely eat, I can grow like magic.
The thing is, I am not that good at gardening? I have been trying to make a compost bin for ages, but it doesn’t seem to be actually composting anything. Probably because I am half-assing it. And every few months I remember to sprinkle fertilizer on the plants that have managed to survive my mindless neglect. I water every couple of days…most weeks.
At the same time, I have managed to spectacularly kill a rosemary bush, which astonishes me, as I had heard those were nigh indestructible.
I got an aloe vera plant. I kept it indoors for a while, and then thought, hey, it would probably be happier on the balcony. So out it went. Hey, did you know aloe vera could get a sunburn? Surprise!
It’s better now. Thriving, even. But it still has some funky colored patches.
As bad as I am at this, though – as guilty as I feel every time I uproot a dried up rue or fennel plant that just didn’t survive me – I still like to do it. I still like to have green things around me that I grew. I like to run my hand over the raggedy old Provence lavender that is only now beginning to recover from a tough summer in 2016, and to inhale the fragrance of fresh lavender off of my palm. I like to pinch a stem of catnip off and toss it to my cats and watch them roll around
I like to tuck the reaching tendrils of peppermint back into its pot. I like to make tea from lemon balm. I like to stand outside and admire the petunia that volunteered its way into a pot of coral reef succulent (and killed the succulent – I am working to forgive the petunia and myself both).
In nice weather, I have been known to sit out on the balcony and drink my tea or eat lunch or have a cider and unwind from work (this, it turns out, is one of the nicer perks of working from home). On rainy days, I’ve sat out there listening to the plink-plink of raindrops on iron railings and watched my plants turn bright shiny green.
I have gone out to my garden full of plants that I grew, and gathered greens to blend into a potato soup, and it was delicious. I really need to grow nasturtiums again.
I am not a master gardener. But I’m not the worst. My garlic chives and lemon balm are not going to win any prizes. But they make me happy, just knowing they exist, knowing that I grew them myself. I clip stems of parsley and sprinkle them over soups and salads and can say, I grew that with my own two hands! and that pleases me no end.
I am not great or perfect, I am just one woman with a tiny straggly garden that brings me joy, so I keep growing it, I keep it going, maybe at a smaller scale than when I started, but it is still there, still alive, still mine, and that is what is important.
Maybe one day I’ll remember how to feel the same way about my writing?