I am an unlikely person to be growing plants or tending to gardens. When Dave suggested even a few years ago that we get a plant for the house I looked at him quizzically – yes, quizzically – because aside from the hideous little plant that my friend Inge had given me years ago and which I now consider an indispensable member of the family, I couldn’t possibly imagine why you would want a plant in the house. Or flowers on the deck. It just didn’t exist within the scope of my existence. Even though I was raised by a mother whose balcony was transformed by her flowers which she fussed over and who once famously declared her birthday party to be an abject failure thanks to nobody bringing her tulips. Yes, tulips. I think she may have even danced on the table that night.
I think when someone you love deeply leaves you, they also leave you with something. My grief over losing my mom led me to plant tulips for the first time in my life. Little bulbs in dirt that grew big, beautiful and colourful. Like my mother. These are for her. I look at them and I say “This is for you. Take a look.” And she says, “Oh my god Tessie, I can’t believe it. You did it for me?” Yes. I did.
But these seeds of grief are becoming something else. Because now I share something with one other person. My mother-in-law, who with bare feet and hands, gets in there and pulls weeds, dead heads and lovingly re-arranges them, then claps her hands clean and says, “Done!”.
And next came tomatoes and basil. And then my friend Karen, rescuer of dogs and cats, also happens to be a rescuer of plants. So now I find I have peppers (all kinds) and a real beauty called Malabar spinach.
A visit to Loutet farm with my niece Ella resulted in snap peas and arugula, quickly followed up with a visit to GardenWorks to see about planting kale (my vegetable du jour) and swiss chard. Vancouver is currently awash with urban gardens and our Greenest City 2020 motto has me all fired up. In the coming weeks I’ll think about potatoes, onions and garlic.
Do I know anything about gardening? No. Like everything else I’ll dive headlong into it and make thousands of mistakes and I’ll learn from Bettye and Karen and others as I go along. But for now. Here are my latest rescues and loves.