Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Walk Around The Flowers

My husband likes to grow things. When we were seeking a house 15 years ago, he passed on many a lovely little place I was willing to buy because the yard was too small to allow for a "proper" amount of flower and vegetable growth. His gardening habits I viewed, originally, as odd but charming. Having grown up in a place where we only grew what we could eat, in a hardscrabble and not very interesting way, I was stunned by the variety of things that passed through my eyes and kitchen.

Salsify. A relative of the artichoke family, it grows in plants up to 6 feet tall. We had six plants, 36 running feet of vegetable. It's good with some butter or olive oil and garlic, but not that good. Tuscan kale. Long before it became a "glamour food," it was growing with abandon in our veggie garden. Brussel sprouts, various types of beans, pear and peach trees (fruit mostly consumed by the various species of rodents who live around here), salad mixes, broccoli rabe, and somewhere between 6 and 20 tomato plants at any given time. (All heirloom or other interesting varieties, because why grow anything you can buy in the grocery store for next to nothing when it's in season?)

So assiduous was he in tending the soil that one year, after a particularly harsh winter, he picked up some branches that had lain on the ice for months to use as tomato stakes. Organic farmer and all. By July, the branches had rooted, and bloomed, unable to resist that beautiful black soil. One was a magnolia, the other a cherry. They were a bitch to cut down, but the tomatoes did look good growing up against them.

I grew to love it all (or, at least tolerate it), but the flowers -- the flowers leave me breathless. I knew he was serious when we once received a personal phone call from Jackson & Perkiss, the superb rose house, in February some years back, asking if the Mister had done his spring rose-buying yet. "Damn it, how much are you spending on roses?" I cried. He shimmied away with his gin into the night. In June, I didn't care anymore. They were glorious.

5 or so years ago, we underwent a major renovation (a move out of the house for 6 months kind of renovation) so that our tumbledown ramshackle cottage could at last look as credible as the houses we passed up. The rose beds, the pride of the neighborhood, were plowed under in the service of construction. He went into a deep and longlasting gloom that only broke when we moved back in, and he started reseeding the lawn.

We've made some headway on the flowers. This time of year it's so fragrant and lovely here, I have a hard time going to work. I want to sit on the bench and watch them grow and see the petals fall and gather them up and watch some more. Coming soon:

The Christmas Penis and
A Walk Round My Neighborhood.


topazz said...

years from now, your daughter might choose to get married in that garden. It's beautiful!

(Unless she's got the calling & enters a nunnery, of course)

Keifus said...

Neither my wife nor I are particularly adept or enthusiastic about growing things. Our attempt at a veggie garden was a total mess. We've been planting perennials because they're a stupendous value with the twice-a-year maintenance and all. Most of them look pretty nice, and I admit, it's a good feeling when they take.

(One variety of roses is a lost cause, as you probably remember, and despite 50 yards of loam and effort last year, the grass is still pretty munged up in some spaces. This year, I'm finding myself increasingly a lawn man. It's horrible: like I'm turning into someone else.)

I think it's great that you have someone around who enjoys the work of keeping the place beautiful, though. It's like marrying a cleaner, but without all the pressure.


LentenStuffe said...

Your post reminded me of the lines,

Naming these things is the Love-Act, and its pledge,
For we must record Love's mysteries without claptrap,
Snatch out of time the passionate, transitorily.

rundeep said...

Topazz: She's not allowed to marry. Just ask her father.

Keif: It's good but then again, I usually end up weeding. Except, this year, he got tired of me pulling out the bulbs. Heh. He enjoys it, and fortunately, also enjoys cooking. It's a good deal for me.

LS: so very right. Patrick Kavanaugh, eh? (Guessing, given your proclivities). Like those lines very much.

twiffer said...

even if you can buy tomatoes in the grocery store, dirt cheap, the ones from your yard still taste better.

unless you are going to a farmer's market.

anyway, i've just got herbs (no, not that kind) on the windowsill.