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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Who Knew?

Have you ever thrown yourself a surprise party? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing! Before you worry that I’ve finally lost it, let me explain. You’re skeptical about how one could throw a surprise party for oneself. It’s a reasonable question, but let’s not let reason or logic get in the way of our fun.
Let me describe how today’s surprise garden party happened. (Mind you, I’m piecing this together as I go, since the planning part is still a mystery to me, the planner.) I’ll explain this in reverse order, as that’s how the whole thing was revealed to me.
A few minutes ago I decided to pull some plants out of a flower bed. They were getting very long and sagging onto the ground. I decided they might grow better if given a pre-spring haircut. I pulled out several feet worth of flowerless stems, and discovered something hidden under all the long stems. It was a 5 or 6” flower pot with something growing inside. What? Where did this come from? I don’t remember putting a pot here, although sometimes I toss bulbs into a pot and let nature be her own time-keeper. Nature is a lot better than I am at remembering her schedule of when to plant and when to water. I must have put bulbs into some dirt a few months ago because today when I unearthed the pot I discovered several healthy green shoots popping out of the soil, their curled leaves tapering into a point, like on a calligraphy pen.

Upon further investigation I found there were twelve shoots. Who knew? You might think that I, the gardener, knew. But the great thing about planting something and forgetting about it is that you get to enjoy the surprise in several stages! Since I love plants, today’s discovery did feel like I’d thrown myself a surprise party—one of which I was completely unaware! (Not just anyone can pull that off. You have to be quite busy, fairly forgetful, and have a garden that is not immaculately manicured. See what the completely organized people of the world are missing? The absent-minded among us are the ones who can genuinely enjoy their own self-designed surprise party!)

I’ve rambled before about how much I love plants. You know I have a garden at home and that I participate in a local community garden. So today’s happy surprise in the garden is right up my alley. I think gardening has been in my soul for a long time. When I was little, Mom read to my sister and me each night and one of the books I remember clearly was The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (If you haven’t read it, go to your library right this minute and borrow it. It is wonderful!) I bought a copy five years ago and although it had been decades since I’d first known this book, the wonder of it came right back to me as I read each page. The book was published in 1911 but it resonates with people more than a hundred years later. It truly is timeless because the joy of growing plants is timeless. In the book, a young orphan named Mary discovers a walled-in garden that has been locked up for more than ten years. Although she knows nothing about gardening, she is fascinated by the garden, and begins to tend the plants inside. It becomes her refuge. Just as the flowers and trees wake up and bloom that spring, so does Mary. There, her body and spirit become stronger and her life changes.

My discovery today made me feel like Mary, when she first entered the garden. It’s exciting to discover something you didn’t know was there. It’s a thrill to realize that something has been growing on its own, waiting to surprise you. I think these may be young tulips. I do recall buying tulip bulbs a while back but I’d forgotten until I found the pot hiding under the long stems above. A present from me…to me! It’s not exactly spring time (even in San Diego) but my garden is always working on something new for me to discover. My garden throws me a surprise party every day!





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