Yesterday, we had the opportunity to put in the first of several flower beds at the Farm. It was the first time this season that I was able to get my hands in the dirt. I’ve missed that. You see, the lady who lived here before loved flowers. It’s evident by the remnants left behind of stubborn old-timey flowers like daylilies and daffodils. She had planted lilac trees and mock orange. There is also a beautiful wisteria that is just about to bust open into it’s glory (I’m hoping by this weekend when my cousins are coming to visit). Though the scene I’m describing sounds beautiful and lush, it’s not. The flowers hadn’t been cared for in many years and there were no flower beds left to speak of. There is a lot of blank space around the house and from the beginning, we had decided that we wanted the entire house to be surrounded by flower beds. Sounds easy, right?
My mom is a flower gardener. She loves to get her hands in the dirt and she’s really good at it. Some of her flower beds have been featured in the likes of Southern Living Magazine and for my whole life I’ve watched (and helped) her put them in and care for them. She makes it look easy. Some of my favorite memories of her are with a big floppy hat, crop pants and dirt all over her. Yesterday, I looked like my mom.
She comes from a long line of gardeners. My grandmother and my granddaddy could grow just about anything. My grandad, a Farmer by trade, grew traditional crops in west Tennessee and they always had a large garden. There was always plenty for his family and plenty to share with his friends and neighbors. My grandmother loved flowers and it was evident when you drove past her yard. Sharing cuttings was a way of life. Even as they got older, they kept a small garden and flowers around the house. On one of their last trips to visit us in Arkansas, mom and dad had just bought their cabin and of course, mom wanted a flower bed around the entire house. I remember helping mom put it in while they were visiting. My grandad wasn’t physically able to help, but he sat on the porch and supervised us as we all dug, planted and mulched. He sat on that porch with tremendous pride watching one of his girls teaching her girl how to do it the right way. He loved seeing us out there in the dirt. It is the picture of him I have in my head when I think of him.
So anyway, back to yesterday. We have about a million projects here at the house. Our bedroom walls aren’t finished. Our shop looks like Sanford and Son live here with plywood tacked up until we can decide how we want to finish it out. The goat and pig fences have to be installed before the end of May when the babies come home. The garden needs to be put in and the house is a wreck. But Saturday, we made the mistake of going to Lowe’s to price a few shrubs and flowers to put in this year. Next year, we planned to fully install the flower beds.
There must have been some magic spell that was cast over us from the garden fairies because we left with two flat beds of flowers and shrubs. It looks like flower beds are going in this year after all. Steve has been tilling up the yard and yesterday, we planted the first bed. It’s all shrubs, small trees, herbs and perennials. There’s definitely a theme of bee and bird friendly flowers.
Last night, after spending hours in the dirt, our hands were stained and our backs were sore. It was dark when we finished. This morning, I walked out to see our first installed flower bed and smiled. I’m proud of it. I said a little prayer that God would look over it and that I got at least a little of the Forsyth green thumb. It’s not perfect. After all, “perfectly imperfect” is our theme song around here. It’ll take time to fill in and grow to what I hope will be a beautiful flower garden that Gracie’s grandkids will enjoy. I pray that it will be a destination for birds and honey bees and that when our friends and family come for a visit, they will enjoy it’s beauty and serenity. I hope that the lady who lived here before will look down and be proud of what we’ve done to her homeplace. I am sure that my grandad and grandma are looking down from Heaven and guiding me along the way, my gardening angels.
Yesterday, I could hear voices in my head….memories of my mom when I was growing up and my grandad on the porch that day. “Dig that hole a little deeper”, “Make sure you use good soil.” “Be sure and trench it out.” “Water it real good. It needs a long drink.”
Today, we’ll work on the rest. We won’t finish it. We’ll probably never finish it. There will always be a new plant to try, a cutting that we got from someone, another magical trip to Lowe’s. And I hope that from this day forward at this time of the year, my hands will always be stained and my back will ache from digging in the dirt.