Our garden hasn’t looked this pitiful in years, but there is something beautiful that calls to me. Something more natural and wild and free than we’ve allowed before.
This year’s plantings were haphazard; this is an understatement. We weren’t sure of how much to plant, for the surgery was coming, and let’s face it… no matter how I want to be a garderer—to love gardening—I am not a gardener—and I doubt that I will ever love gardening. There is very little past the most primal idea of it that is at all tantalizing, and I’m reconciling myself to reality as it is, rather than continuing to fight and pretend and frown at the results. Gardening is subsistence for me, and nothing more, and thank God we’re not truly depending on it.
But this year, even though only half of the garden got the blessing of weed barrier—yes, we do that; who wants to weed?—and even though every single pea plant was eaten by subterranean devils, and every cucumber save one met a similar mysterious and heinous fate, and even though we rescued far too many orphaned tomato and pepper plants, so many that there are no cages to support them, the garden looks good.
Wait. I said it looked pitiful. That wasn’t fair.
It looks pitiful when looked at through certain domesticated lenses. Like the kind photographers for Better Homes and Gardens employ. It is an overgrown, weeds taller than the tallest tomato plants mess. And I love it. Through my practical-not-pretty lens, things are looking good.
There is a small patch of parsley and thyme and basil, tossed in desperately along the chives and left to the devices of the quack and lamb’s quarters that infringe on the borders. I have to root around a little if I desire to partake of their bounty—which is not great—but they are there, and despite its meager proportions, they are as tasty as ever.
There are tomatoes a-plenty—monsters and midgets alike—harvested daily by the 15yo gardener extraordinaire (where did she come from?), and they are lovely and sweet and thriving despite their careless adult benefactors. And there were two cucumbers that found their way into the house over the past few weeks. They were lonely, but they did just fine.
I do wish there were a few peas, but the 7′ grasses are doing quite nicely in their place.
The half of the garden that didn’t benefit from the covering of weed barrier is masquerading as a wildflower garden and doing a smashing job of it. The latecomer tomatoes planted among the weeds in said barrier-free area—many sans cage—are spindly and not the healthiest specimens in the neighborhood, but no one could say that we deprived them of their fundamental rights to bear fruit. They’ll get a few of their progeny in our freezer yet. And has anyone ever told you how tasty lamb’s quarters are?
I’m not a big fan of anything that could make it in between the covers of Better Homes and Gardens anyway—which is good for me—but in this case specifically, the greater the departure from picture-perfect, the more I realize that a garden is meant to grow. I have to say that the
weeds wildflowers—while showing a certain laissez faire attitude by certain inhabitants of our homestead—add a little something that I feel belongs there. Wildness. Freedom. Reckless Abandon. I think I like them. Heck, I might even dispense with the weed-barrier altogether next year.
The trained eye might say that this little garden let herself go, but from my vantage point at the picnic table, she’s just coming into her own.
If you need me, I probably won’t be in the garden,