Growing disappointment

2006/28th June 2021

The rumble of thunder alerted me to the fact that a storm was imminent, but it was one of those brief, violent downpours followed by clearing sky and interesting clouds.

Sometimes you have to look hard, but I can find faces.

The arrival of rain was much appreciated by the garden, that brightened immediately. But when I went out afterwards, the humidity hit me like wet gauze.

My lens, that had been in my now efficiently air-conditioned house, kept fogging up, so I got some soft-focus photographs!

Although it was still quite hot, the temperature had dropped and I could sense that the garden felt refreshed. Watering with a hose just isn’t the same. When I look out on a hot, dry day at all those plants, I feel their exhaustion. Maybe it’s my mother’s voice “Look at the poor things!”, she would say. “Smithy, give them some water!” Although it was my mother who was a slave to her many gardens.

When she got older, suffering with arthritis and back problems, it frustrated me to see her working so hard to keep her garden nice.

Bits and pieces that I could contribute were a gesture. I didn’t know peas from petunias and I was liable to pull up expensive plants instead of unwanted weeds.

So mostly I just walked around with Mum, chatting or carrying things when needed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care for plants then. I very much did, but my mind was pre-occupied by a host of other things and I had never acquired my mother’s passions.

Cooking held no interest for me. I could sew a little and sometimes, in my pre-cat days, I used to do embroidery. It was a creative pastime that I enjoyed, but failing eyesight and the arrival of my feline friends put paid to that, even before my own fingers became arthritic.

Until I was past 50, I had never had a garden of my own and I had only ever been a visitor to my parents various gardens.

When I finally bought a house, this is what I let myself in for.

Father’s Day 2011. My tree caused a power outage in the neighborhood. I was not popular.

It was not a good introduction to gardening!

Mostly, it was on a steep hill and wooded. Keeping weeds at bay was a full time occupation

But I had small triumphs.

and new friends..

….lots of them…

In spite of the really hard work involved, that I wasn’t physically equal to, I began to enjoy watching things grow. Things that I had planted and especially things that I had rescued.

When my big old maple came down, it all but totaled a little rose bush I had planted by the fence.

Once the mountain of debris was cleared, I went through the wreckage and found the smallest twig of my rose. I re-planted it and made a point of nursing it and talking to it. By the time I left that house it was flourishing. I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to my plants when I left.

It had been a terrible first experience, especially for someone semi-disabled, but I learned what it was my mother had so enjoyed in all of her gardens.

My cousins grew up with gardens and parents who shared my mother’s passion. They became great gardeners as well, being able to identify the names and needs of almost any British plant.

My ignorance of such things was another way in which I felt inadequate, a disappointment to my mother.

Mum had wanted a sweet little girl that loved dolls and curls and frilly dresses. I was not that child. I wanted teddy bears and animals, straight hair and plain dresses. Nor was I sweet.

Mum was a great cook but I was always on a diet.

She was always extremely kind and generous to me and I’m sure she loved me but sometimes I think she probably didn’t like me all that much.

Certainly she didn’t understand anything about me.

And I will always be sorry for that.

4 thoughts on “Growing disappointment

  1. I’m not good gardener. Nothing is growing when I plant it.😀😀
    I love to watch clouds. When I was little my sister and I always tried to find some clouds faces or figures. It was fun.

  2. My mom is a great gardener (like your mom was) and me … not so much. But I’m walking with her to move the heavy pots or lift a compost bag (like you did) … and maybe in the process I’m learning a bit of how to care for the plants. I’ve planted a few herbs and was (and still is) very excited to see them grow – I guess there is something satisfying in seeing a plant grow and flourish that you’ve planted yourself.
    I think your mom would have been proud of you on how your gardening skills turned out … 🌿

  3. I do not have a green thumb at all and my gardens limp along as my houseplants up and die on me to get away. And then there is my mom who retook up gardening when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s years ago (he has since passed) as an outlet that I believe saved her. She still tends her garden with more energy and care than I even pretend to have with mine.

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