To garden is to have a tiny country of your own, where you are both king and serf. The way to it lies through a simple patch of soil; the smallest pot of earth and a single seed can take you there.
To garden is to dream. Once get your hands well into the dirt, and your mind is free to soar.
To garden is to connect - with the earth beneath, with the sky above, with the wind that blows and the rain that falls. To garden is to hear the birds and to feel the hot sun on your back.
To garden is to work, and to wait. To garden is to sweat, and sometimes to swear.
To garden is to return to the first calling of humankind; to look upon what God has made and call it good; to live, if only for a moment, in Eden.
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One of the perks of renting from a casual and absentee landlord is a certain latitude when it comes to use of the property. Our apartment occupies the bottom floor of a house surrounded mainly by grass; the yard is not landscaped in any way, nor cared for other than with regular mowing.
Though I'd love to have a sizeable garden, diffidence constrains me from digging up a large patch of someone else's lawn, even for the laudable purpose of growing vegetables. So instead I've carved out a few small spaces for gardening of a useful and beautiful kind. (The landlord has never objected, so I assume he doesn't mind.)
There is a tiny plot next to the house (confession: I did dig up a bit of lawn here), just big enough for a few veggies and some perennial herbs. This year it holds kale and basil and a small hot-pepper plant, with lovage, lemon balm, and chives:
There are small planters on either side of our south-facing doorstep. When we moved here they were flat, and sparsely populated by iris. The iris was promptly relocated and the planters converted to two-layer mini-terraces filled with an annual succession of herbs and flowers.
Among the plants on the right-hand side are purple beans, just beginning to bloom:
And more basil (pesto-to-be):
On the other side, cosmos - like a green breath waiting to exhale a flower:
Thyme starred with tiny, miraculous blossom:
Bright dianthus, delicate and bold:
Tarragon, parsley, alyssum, chives, verbena, marigold, Irish Poet ... a litany of beauty and flavour sung by a few square feet of earth.
In a crook of the house lies a grassless space which is perfect for a tomato plant. All the sun and warmth of the day are caught and concentrated here, and every year tomatoes thrive on this spot. (I know I'm breaking a gardening rule by always planting them in the same place, but they love it and produce prodigious amounts of fruit.)
On and around the steps are potted plants: more marigold and alyssum, more basil and verbena, a thyme and a rosemary that have dozed in the house all winter long, dreaming of summer days out-of-doors.
Only a Very Small Garden, but it brings me large joy.
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Do you have a garden? What do you like to grow?
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