Friday, May 31, 2013

The Power of Flowers


Fragrant Flowers on our Morning Walk
In my more youthful days of gardening I was all about organic food plants.  As I get older I have begun to enjoy planting and caring for flowers and herbs more.

That is not to say that I do not have organic food gardening as a priority!  This year my husband has stepped into the gap in a big way (the 'gap' being my spending less time in the garden).  He has a 5-gallon pail of compost tea burbling away at all times, another pail of comfrey tea brewing under the grape arbor, and is experimenting with strewing agricultural lime in any patch of ground my eyes have fallen upon.  We have just put in  Saskatoon berry bushes, a few Sea Buckthorns, and 3 Sour Cherry trees (or bushes or whatever they will be) as well as the usual assortment of greens (kale, chard, collards, cilantro, parsley, romaine, etc.) and beans and a vast forest of little tomato plants, many donated by kind friends and neighbors.  We also have a square foot herb garden, a burgeoning Rosemary bush, a pear tree, a fig tree, a prolific thorn-free Blackberry, a golden plum, a Rainier cherry tree,  a derelict old apple tree (translucents), two young Haskap bushes, strawberries, blueberries, and a filbert tree.  So, we are not short on food plants.

Foxglove with flowering thornless Blackberry in background
But I am attracted to do most of my pottering in the front flower beds.  It rained incessantly for several days over the past week so today was the first day where I actually went out and pulled weeds-- a whole wheelbarrow full, actually!  We're heading away for a couple of days so I won't be able to get at the rest of the front yard bloom-beds until Monday.

 I'm more than a little embarrassed by the masses of weeds.  I think fondly of my Dad who weeded his latter-year gardens with such diligence that nary a weed could be spotted.  I think equally fondly about our son (the "nomad farmer") who is big on "cover crops" and who is not so persnicketty about weeds, explaining that it is better to have a vigorous protected plant than a weed-free garden-- I think he even said once, "Mom, weeds are NOT the enemy".  He doesn't comment much on my flower gardens, but he does offer suggstions for growing flowers that have medicinal qualities (I guess to validate their floral decorative quality vs. being truly useful as food).  Therefore, I have comfrey in many locations with its pretty attractive little purply puffs, and bee balm, mints, stinging nettle, and lots of lavender drifts (lately full of grass, ugh).

While I was pulling weeds today I had to stop for a few minutes to breath in the horecandy smell of the catnip.  Earlier in the morning I enjoyed the fragrance of a flow of soft-mauve woodland flowers, maybe a bolt from someone's yard.  I am trying to ID them as I write (with the help of my Facebook friends).  They have a nice spicy scent.  I feel so tranquil when I see them.

I remember that my grandmother and my Mom both took to flowers in their senior years.  Perhaps it is a convention or a trend in our family.  Maybe it is wider spread that women begin to enjoy flowers as they start the later part of life's journey.  Maybe it has something to do with retirement?  Food seems like work, maybe, and the flowers seem like a way just to *be*.... a human being vs. a human doing.

Do you have any thoughts?