A New Hobby

My daughter and I are starting a new hobby, gardening. This weekend, we went out and got nine new houseplants, a bunch of seeds, and various supplies. It started as a plan for filling our yard with flowers, but it’s still a little too cold to start outdoors, so we got the houseplants to keep us busy until then. We’re looking forward to it, but we don’t really know what we’re doing.

When I was a kid, my mom kept a small vegetable garden and grew various flowers in the yard. My brothers and I “helped” in that way little kids help, but we weren’t deeply involved. There was baseball to be played and fish to be caught. I only remember one houseplant, an African Violet, but there were probably a few others. So, I got through my childhood liking plants, but not really knowing much about them.

Starting college, I realized pretty quickly that dorms sit on a range from sterile to dingy, which I didn’t enjoy. Posters and such can only do so much, so I hit on the idea of getting some plants. I went with the easiest thing I could, spider-plants. They did well with minimum attention and I enjoyed having them.

Since college, I’ve consistently kept a few houseplants. It’s been a very hit or miss experience. Some that I’ve been told are bulletproof curl up and die. Others that I can’t even identify live forever, whatever I do to them. I’ve tried doing research about proper care before my purchase, without success. But, I have pretty decent luck just blundering around. It’s a bit confusing.

When I was married, my ex kept a small vegetable garden. It was pretty successful. We got lots of tomatoes and zucchini and peppers and stuff like that. Like my mom’s garden, I was never deeply involved. When my wife left, I struggled with depression for a while (as I documented years ago on this blog). Part of that depression was a lack of energy. It took more than I had to take care of my kid, my cat, and show up to work most days. As a result, I ignored the outside of the house, almost completely. The yard went pretty wild. All of the bushes and hedges and trees got completely overgrown and unruly. There were weeds everywhere.

The next few years, even though I was feeling better, I discovered that once a yard gets out of hand, it is really, really hard to reclaim it. Maybe if I hadn’t been working two jobs and taking care of my daughter, I could have managed. But, I felt like everything grew faster than I could keep up with it. I feel bad for my neighbors because my house was “that house.”

Last summer, we brought in professional help. They ripped out the hedges and bushes. They trimmed the trees and flattened the yard. I essentially asked them to hit the reset button on my yard, and that’s what they did. Ever since, my daughter and I have been talking about what to do with the newly reclaimed space. We talked about everything from getting new hedges to vegetables. Finally, we decided on flowers. We want to fill our yard with flowers, and hopefully the kind of flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. If they’re fragrant, even better.

We don’t even know the basics, like how much sun different parts of the yard get or how much water we’ll need. It will be a learning experience. I hope the plants and pollinators like us. We’ll do our best. I know not everything is going to work, but I hope enough does to make it a pleasant yard to spend time in. It should be a fun experiment.

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