Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Digging Up My Roots: Genealogical Gardening

My thumb is anything but green.

I like flowers. They're pretty to look at. I gaze admiringly upon the lawns of other people who clearly have a gift for gardening. But then I return to my own yard of nothing but grass, without a single splash of color to pretty it up. You see, I have no interest in gardening. No interest in digging around in dirt. No interest in investing effort into planting and watering and pruning and all the other things you have to do to plants. Not that I know much about that. With no interest... I've never bothered to learn.

It wasn't always this way. When I was a little girl, I loved to help my grandmother with her flowers. My grandparents had a vegetable garden too, and each of us grandkids had a stalk or a vine or something of each kind of vegetable they grew for our very own.

But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, gardening went out the window.

Now I'm thinking perhaps it was situational. First I had a little house where I could have gardened, and actually did put in some flowers one summer. But I left that little house each summer to vacation for 4-6 weeks at a time, and that made gardening impossible. So I stopped.

Then my next home, now that I think about it, really didn't have much of anywhere to put flowers. I had to weed the groundcover and that was a hot and miserable task that required so many precautions to keep from getting poison ivy, which I somehow kept managing to get even though we killed every poison ivy plant we found, that no wonder gardening was the last thing in the world I wanted to do.

But now I have a nice yard with all these empty, yet prepared, flower beds here, there, and everywhere. I groaned just thinking about all the work it would be to put flowers in so many beds, and I did nothing. No flowers for me. We'll just have mulch beds surrounding the deck. Maybe someday, when I have kids, I'll plant flowers and let the kids help but right now -- I just don't want to.

That all changed Saturday. If you clicked the link in my last post, then you saw the picture of the cemetery with all the daylilies covering it. My great-great-grandmother planted those lilies, and my cousin announced that she was going to get some and plant them in her yard.

Now that appealed to me. Flowers in and of themselves are pretty to look at, but just not significant enough or important enough to me to bother with. But flowers planted by my great-great-grandmother? Those are significant. I wanted some too.

So while we were at the cemetery, we dug up some of those tiger lilies and I brought them home and planted them. I especially liked the fact that my cousin kept telling me as I asked questions, "You can't kill them! They are virtually unkillable!" I like a virtually unkillable plant. :)

So as we drove the long way home, I asked my cousin about her interest in gardening, and how and when that all came about. And as she chattered eagerly about plants she had gotten from older relatives -- plants I knew nothing about until this day -- I sensed a new addiction growing.

I want those plants too. I want Great Aunt Mandy's snapdragons from North Carolina. And if Mammaw's favorite flowers have always been zinnias, ever since she was a little girl, I want to plant some of those too, even if they aren't what I would pick out myself. I want Aunt Mary's mother's peonies. Maybe I'll even get adventurous enough to get a cutting of my mother's Christmas cactus, which was cut from Mama Walton's Christmas cactus... the real Mama Walton, you know, Mama Hamner. I've always wanted to, but I was afraid I'd kill it.

You see, in transplanting my lilies, I discovered that planting and watering really isn't so bad after all. In fact, I kind of like it. And when the flowers are more than just pretty blooms, but have family significance -- well, I'm all over that.

So something tells me I have a new hobby in the works. We'll see how it goes. :)

1 comment:

Martha said...

How wonderful for you to connect with your family through plants.