Friday, June 1, 2012

Yardless Gardening

I plunged into a new craze this week after seeing a lady on TV explaining how to do container gardening. I can do that, I said to myself. Even I, although I have not a square inch of dirt to work with nor any plot of ground to call my own. I can put big flower pots on the sidewalk in front of the house. They can be as artistic as I like. Then I can stuff them with potting soil and growing plants, in the hope that as the summer progresses I won't kill them.

This being Lambertville, I had my secret sources for the various elements of this project. It began with a glorious Mandevilla that I picked up at the Giant Foods in New Hope. It had a small trellis in its plastic pot, but it was begging to be put in a handsome container and trained up a string onto the porch. So off I went to the Homestead Market on North Main Street. There I found some pretty pots glazed in various colors, quite inexpensive at thirty or forty dollars apiece. (The TV lady said they would cost about a hundred.) So I bought three. Having dragged them home, I went across the river to New Hope and wandered around the Living Earth at 234 West Bridge Street, looking for company for the Mandevilla, falling in love with one plant after another.

They had some gorgeous things there. I saw a long table of handsome plants with a sign on it promising that the deer wouldn't eat them. Not a problem for us, but folks on the outskirts of town have trouble with deer. I saw all kinds of beautiful flowers I'd never heard of, plants with pale green foliage and feathery pink spikes, plants with bright round blossoms in impossibly bright colors, plants in the sunlight, plants in the shade. Then I saw a healthy rosemary bush a foot and a half high, pungent with sticky resin. Suddenly I realized that I'd loved it all my life. And if rosemary, why not lavender? And creeping thyme. I didn't have to make a gaudy garden to impress the TV lady, in the unlikely event that she ever came through Lambertville and eyeballed my containers. I could fill my garden with things I've loved forever. It turned out to be one of those moments when you remember who you really are.

You may ask, what does all this have to do with crime writing? Here's what. After your pencils are all sharpened, your software updated, your itchy places scratched, and the lighting in your office adjusted just so, gardening is an elegant way to put off writing.

Kate Gallison

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