I used to hate (and I mean HATE) gardening when I was a child.
On a farm, isolated from civilization, and staring at acres of dirt was not my idea of “living”.
The garden was where one spent summer vacation, hunched over rows of weed-choked vegetables that were the least appealing to eat. Conversations about potato bugs, moldy blight, and how best to pickle beets… my fingernails were constantly broken and soil-stained, the sun had burnt hard freckles across my nose, and the only “nice” clothes left in my wardrobe were meant for Sundays.
I refused to keep even a houseplant for the first four years of our marriage. My nails were always manicured, and my clothes stayed clean. I pretended not to know the distinctions among fish, steer, and chicken manure. On long car trips, I would ignore the fields of flourishing crops when friends would speculate over what produce was being grown. To the dismay of my husband, I despised most of the great outdoors… the beach and the woods were the exclusive exceptions (no one farmed there).
Then, one day, a friend had us over for dinner.
“Oh, come see my garden that I’ve been working on this year!” she’d exclamied.
I inwardly groaned, and Mr. Anonymous gently guided me out the back door.
Our friend was beaming in the middle of her yard. Confused, I looked around. Not a sprout or a chute of a vegetable was to be seen. Our friend was a failure! What was I going to say?
Panic was beginning to thrash its way up my throat when she asked the dreaded question.
“So what do you think?”
I opened my mouth soundlessly and blinked rapidly.
“I know, amazing, huh? Who knew I had such a green thumb?!”
She strode over to her fence line.
“These little fellows were tricky, but they’ve bloomed without any trouble.” She was pointing to a long bed of flowers and foliage. Where were her crops? What did she think she was growing?
“What—um—what variety are those?” I managed to croak out.
She gave me a funny look. “I dunno. You’re the one who’s the plant expert! I just know that they’re marigolds.” She bent over the next clump. “And this, of course, is Baby’s Breath, and my tulips did very well!”
Marigolds? Baby’s Breath? Tulips? Was she kidding?! Those were just flowers!
My husband raised his eyebrows at me while he complimented our friend.
“Oh, yes!” I fumbled. “Everything is very pretty.”
Our friend gave a lopsided smile and brushed her hand over some Lavender. “It’ll be even better next year.”
We nodded vigorously and followed her back into the house for dinner.
On the way home, Mr. Anonymous laughed as I asked, “Why would she call that a garden? There wasn’t anything to eat in it!”
Then he enlightened me to the other type of ‘garden’.
“What did you call your flower beds when you were growing up?”
I felt foolish. “The yard. We sold or ate what we grew. We didn’t mess around with putting flowers around decoratively.”
His gaze was kind.
“Maybe, honey,” he said. “You should try it now.”
Our daughter has always flowers around her home. The more it smells, the more we like it. Wisteria, Lavender, Skimmia, Honeysuckle, Daphne, Mint, Roses, Lilies, Lilacs, Katsura trees, Daffodils, Tulips, Irises, Hyacinth… luxuriant perfume.
Last year, we even planted a few vegetables… tasty ones.