Sydney Eddison, gardener and author, observed, “Gardens are a form of autobiography,” and I see a comparison between my gardening adventures and my life. In Maryland I knew what I wanted to plant, but I didn’t always bother with a few important details of how to make the plants flourish. Sometimes, I put the flowers in an inhospitable location – like the year I planted Black-eyed Susans. I didn’t have so much luck growing them in Maryland. I made some basic gardening mistakes the time I tried. I didn’t transplant the containers of flowers deep enough into prepared soil. I chose a part of the garden that didn’t get as much sustained sunlight, and the soil was too sandy to retain water, and I did not divide them at the end of the season or deadhead expired blooms.
So, they did not flourish or bloom again.
Doing the right things in the wrong way – or with the wrong attitude – often ends badly, no matter how hard I worked. Just because I wanted to plant something, didn’t mean I knew how; just because I wanted it to grow in a particular spot, didn’t mean it could or would. Soil preparation, proper plant tending, light and water matter – so does knowledge.
But, as grim a reflection of my gardening skills (and character defects) that my gardens sometimes show, they are happy reminders that God redeems what I count as losses. He shows me that ignorant enthusiasm can be harnessed, and redirected. And the mystery of life is grander than my blunders. However, as I now read more carefully the directions jammed in the plant pots, I make sure where I plant plants corresponds with what is labeled with bright yellow or purple suns. By building on what I am learning, I am not killing so many plants. Except for the pineapple sage I just planted in the wrong place.
Now, I am hoping I had time to add some Maryland color in our Texas garden. Starting some Black-eyed Susans from seeds, yesterday, I knew I was late . . . two months late. They’re wild flowers, one of the most common, so I am hoping the seeds I just committed to starter containers will not be temperamental.
Reading the directions on the packet, I learned the seeds, smaller than poppy seeds, need sun to germinate. And I needed to press them ever so slightly into the soil without covering them up. Teeny-tiny black seeds are hard to see against dark brown potting soil, and figuring out how much pressure presses a minuscule seed no deeper than one-eighth of an inch were challenges, so late in yesterday’s 100+ degree heat.
Now, I am nervous, wondering how hard I pushed those seeds down – if the spot is too sunny, too hot, or too dry – or if I started too late? I really would like to see them sprout. If they emerge, I will have a perennial reminder of Maryland for they are the state flower of Maryland – and another page in my autobiography.