Garden life began for me at the age of 12. When my mother worried she was so busy she might not get her dahlias planted, I volunteered for the job. I seldom volunteered for chores on our busy family farm, but, even then, the magic of these flowering plants had me under their spell. Dahlias grow from thick, elongated roots called tubers that we dug each fall and stored for the winter. By springtime the gnarly clumps were like shriveled starfish, testing one’s faith any life could be left in those dusty, wrinkled remains. Despite their start, by late summer armloads of lemon yellow and royal purple blooms added bright exclamation marks around our farm. The transformation gripped me in a way I never felt tending our 1/2 acre vegetable garden. The garden fed our family of nine during long, snowy winters. The dahlias fed my soul.
My love of gardening has evolved along with my life. Starting out, bold, belle-of-the-ball plants captivated me. I’ve now arrived at a new realization. The soil beneath my feet is the essential partner in my garden journey. As I work the soil to expand my garden yet again, I see myself holding a gift, peeling back the wrapping that is the sod, reaching inside and exploring the earth being offered. This firm brown gift invites me into a partnership. I must commit to offering rich, crumbly compost to feed the soil, to help it breathe and open passageways where roots can explore and anchor themselves as they nourish the plants above. In return, the soil commits to being a home for my garden, to hold plants firm in the fury of winds and driving rains, to release the minerals I taste in a juicy tomato or a blood red beet, to delighting my eyes with a luscious parade of flower bouquets that need no vases to enhance their beauty.
I am more than a gardener. I am Mother Earth’s partner. Together, we perform garden magic.