In the Garden


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Have you ever stopped to ask if you can harvest seeds from a Hollyhock or Morning Glory or spent Sunflower?   One can always tell whether or not you are asking the beneficiary of the gardener’s labors or the gardener, by their response.  The beneficiary looks at you suspiciously, curious as to why you do not know that the hardware store sells seeds; the gardener puffs up just a tiny bit, thrilled that you want to help propagate the beauty they feel has come forth from their efforts; and gladly says help yourself, while they watch to make sure you do not take too many seeds, as they will be planting those Marigolds again – still, gardeners love to share!

Months ago I separated several clumps of Amaryllis bulbs, replanting them in small pots, intending to give them away at Christmas.  As the weeks passed, and I continued to check on the bulbs, which remained bloomless; I started to toy with the idea of creating a potted oasis, in the pool room.

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My bay leaf tree, which is growing in a large planter with a citrus, which my Mother planted, by scattering some unknown, to me, seeds, has been a delicious source of fresh flavor all year.  I also have a Cuban oregano plant, which seem to have adapted to living indoors, but has not grown large enough for me to be at peace with harvesting its leaves.  I miss fresh herbs, and a cutting garden, of blooming flowers.  The succulents are growing fine, while, the Bromeliads are doing better than the orchids, but in general the potted plants feel static.

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In Florida, it is rare to go out into the garden and not see a vibrant sight, whether it is new growth, a spectacular bloom, a piece of fruit ripening, or a new bird who has made its home in the bougainvillea – I miss feeling that the garden is living.  I wondered if it was time to plant cosmos or dill or even a tomato plant?

Thus I took out my seed caddy and began to look through my precious collections of store bought seeds, those harvested from my own garden and those collected at the side of the road.  As I began to unpack my seeds, I noticed that my seeds lived in a bit of a mess.

Normally, I think of myself as being a rather well organized person.  I enjoy a tidy house, with books and files in alphabetical order, items in drawers nicely folded and stored items labeled and even dated.  Why in the world were my seeds such a disaster, why were they in envelopes and paper bags?


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As I continued to unpack my treasures of possibility, a clearer picture of the situation emerged, which both warmed my heart and made me sad.  I kept my seeds as I had been taught, by my Master Gardener.

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Seeds sent to or collected for me, by my Mother

It was my Mother who years ago, when I was still a child, told me to go play in the dirt; she always said it was good for your nerves.  She was of course right about the pleasure a garden brings, and its medicinal qualities.

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Looking through the seeds, some placed in paper cups, wrapped in napkins or pages of catalogues, I reflected on the many times my Mother sent me seeds, she collected on her walks or seeds sent to her by Tursia, her dear friend who was an award winning gardener. (To read more about Tursia, follow the link below, and scroll down to the August, 2007 post

It is hard to believe that on the 31st of this month, it will be two years since we lost my Mother; but alas there is nothing I can do about that except be grateful she left so much of her self behind.

So while for a few minutes, I debated reorganizing the seeds, as I separated what I might plant, after the holidays; as I fingered the envelopes and baggies which bore Mother’s handwriting, I decided not everything, in my life, needs to be in alphabetical order.  Maybe I will just scoop up a handful of the seeds, on the bottom of the caddy, which have freed themselves from what container either Mother or I put them in, and simply scatter them around her grapefruit tree, which Caroline has sent to winter in the pool room.  Perhaps it is time for a little surprise.

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