The garden has always been my husband’s area. But, a couple of years ago, after seeing the same colored geraniums arrive home from the garden store, I had to get involved. A bit of background is probably necessary. When we first started dating, I’d ask him if he wanted pork chops for dinner. The answer was always an emphatic, “No!” One day I just made them without asking. Well, after that dinner, I was asked to make them three times in one week.
Another of my husband’s areas is the grocery shopping. As I’m from Canada (where groceries are much more expensive) I can’t be trusted to come home from the store without paying exorbitantly for one or two bags. Not that I don’t pay attention to price, I just can’t tell if it is a good price. So, after hearing, “You paid $60 for 2 bags of groceries? I could have bought five bags for that!” I said, “Fine. You do the shopping then.” Pivotal mistake for my poor palette though (I refer to my comment on his consistent selection of geraniums…year after year), because bland would be a descriptive choice of words for the food he brings home from the grocery store.
So, seeing the same rows of geraniums line my yard, in the same pattern, in the same planters, for the third year in a row, I had no choice but to launch a revolt. Off to the store I went. On what can only be referred to as a gardening bender. I can’t tell you the names of the flowers I bought, but I can tell you that I probably purchased one of every size, shape and color available. And it was expensive. But then “benders” usually are.
Arriving home with my treasures, “Cisco” informed that most of the plants I picked wouldn’t be hearty enough to survive the onslaught of salty wind from Hood Canal. I looked at my tiny flowers, all lined in beautifully random colorful rows like little soldiers and I willed them to grow. I gave each one a pep talk as I haphazardly stuffed them into the planters, setting myself a goal of completely random and unpredictable. There was something almost exhilarating about that summer, seeing the planters overflowing with nameless flowers that defied the salty air.
It seemed like planting weather would never arrive this year, with all the rain and the cold spells that wouldn’t let go. But finally the day came. On the way to the garden store my sons both asked me, “Can we pick out some flowers? Can we do the garden?” It was a two-roads-diverged-in-a-yellow-wood moment for me. I was so looking forward to fulfilling my vision for the garden that I was reluctant to say yes. But then I remembered how I used to get upset watching my husband happily plant his predictable rows of geraniums and I didn’t want my sons feeling that way towards me. “Sure!” I replied, with more enthusiasm than I felt.
I forced myself to stand by the door of the greenhouse, manning the cart, while they ran back and forth with their treasured finds, exclaiming how beautiful each and every flower was. As they got closer to the budgeted number, their running slowed, and they savoured each choice a bit longer. We navigated the cart to the checkout and each of them grabbed a bag of potting soil (how, I don’t know as those things are heavy, but that was the intensity of their enthusiasm) and we checked out for $38. Which I thought was a reasonable price for carving out what I hoped would be a great memory in their little lives.
Back at the house the boys picked out their planters and every flower found a spot. My 4 year old was quietly whispering, “There you go little buddy,” to each and every one. I remembered myself, years ago, setting forth on my gardening journey, willing my own selections to grow. As hard as it was to surrender control, and my vision for this summer’s garden, I knew that we had all gained more doing it this way.
The next day, when the kids needed to pick out “just six more plants” to fill in the gaps, my husband took them to the store. I always hope for the best with a store outing. Busy boys and crowded stores are not always the best combination. They returned home and, though my husband was obviously frustrated, the mission was completed. I was invited to look at their flowers; all six of them, random and mismatched, and the kids were beaming from ear to ear. My husband said, “I let them pick them out themselves and didn’t steer them towards any specific color.” As clearly as I can tell you what is coming home in each grocery bag, I knew from Mr. Predictable’s proud comment that my gardening days were done. But, I’m really not too bothered about not having a say in our future gardens. Now I can devote some time to staging a revolt against the food!
Want to give your kids a chance to personalize their garden? On April 27th Discovery Village’s Kids Club will be building bird feeders.