It is that time of year in Atlanta, the hardest of my gardening days. A little voice in my head keeps whispering – go! Go and plant those seeds, go and put those seedlings out, go and bring out the hoses and hook up the irrigation system. But I must be patient….
The days are already “t-shirt-is-all-you-need” warm, but the nights still get cold. With temperatures in the single digits Celsius, there really is little to do outside but wait – for the plant outlets to open, for the daffodils to come into bloom and the azaleas to put on the show. Last week I still dared to add some Taber Azaleas to the front perennial bed and the boarder to the “kids garden”. But now it is getting to warm for planting without constant watering and the selection of shrubs are dwindling. The seeds are planted in the seed germination station in the basement, growing slowly – too slow when you stare at them three times a day. So I pull every weed and apply mulch and dig a new vegetable bed. Now I am done and all that is left to do is – wait. It will be three hard weeks until we reach the beginning of March.
Art historian Jennifer Roberts of Harvard University makes it mandatory for every student in her class, to pick one piece of art and go see it if on display – for three hours at a time. Sit in front of it and look for three hours. She asks her students to face the jitters, the jumpiness and constant need for updates and connections, and slow down and look. Make it through the impatience and really look. I only lasted about 45 minutes, once again with tea in hand, on the porch swing. But I looked around the garden and found memories. Flag iris remind me of planting the bulbs with my son that first fall in our garden. The hole in the vegetable bed tells of bringing my dog home last spring and her first careful steps into her new space (now she owns the place!). The boxwood I salvaged from a neighbor’s yard and how it kept knocking me over when I tried to wheelbarrow it home.
I also found future plans for the garden – a new fence, a new planting and new greenhouse maybe – and a little hope that this year will be a good year, despite everything. Because no matter what, the daffodils and lilies will come up and the azaleas will bloom and the tomatoes will grow. No matter if I am there to watch it and begging it to grow faster.
A garden is incredibly patient.