A Reflection On Why I Garden

I was compelled to rise this morning and write about why I garden.

I garden in quite a small space, actually–a typical city lot in south Minneapolis, closely flanked by two houses that look quite similar to mine. Behind me lies the typical depressing alley, with bits of broken glass and tall weeds that people pretend are wildflowers. In the front of my house, they took away the boulevard a few years back after all the elms died, and the sidewalk butts right up against the street. Weeds grow in the cracks, and I scrape them away with my Dutch hoe, a proud purchase from the now defunct Smith and Hawken.

I garden, like many, because it gives me a sense that the space where I dig in the dirt is all mine. I have created what you see. I control this little acre, or quarter acre. Years down the road, after I am gone, the earth will remember me. The gardener who then will tend the plot, will not know who I was, but perhaps, on a subconscious level, will connect to my spirit. Whoa, okay Eric, back to earth.

It took me a while to connect to this gardening space. My first years here, I was aloof. I dug up a vegetable patch in the back,  a humble little space that gave me some Big Boy tomatoes and a few cukes. Marigolds bordered the plot, because they kept critters away, supposedly. All my veggies came in little six-packs from the grocery store hoophouse and I weeded and watered with a hoe and plastic watering can from Target.

To look back at this time, I think I was scared of doing something wrong. Plus, I had no gardening role models. Well, I take that back. My parents were great gardeners… vegetables and annuals to die for. But, I had bought this house somewhat impulsively and a little out of a sense of “I should do this.” I wasn’t embracing the property. I wasn’t digging in, so to speak. I was dancing like someone was watching.

Well, I think I just needed some time and some connections. I went through the Master Gardener course, though this didn’t really inspire me. It was hard to be inspired, volunteering to answer questions about turf grass care at Frank’s Nursery and Crafts. I began working at the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, which got me talking to gardeners and witnessing their spirits, as well as reading Northern Gardener magazine and seeing great gardens.

So, the garden journey has been exactly that–a journey. When I garden in my yard, I create. I walk a fine line between doing this just for myself, thank you and also wanting everyone to see it. Sometimes when I garden, I throw my arms up to the sky and feel the spirit. Sometimes I get really frustrated and then I realize I am moving too fast and concerning myself with hasty outcomes, which is so not what gardening is about.

And the flowers are really prettty.


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