I like plants. I was a plant ecology graduate student. I memorized their names, collected their seeds, learn how botanists classify their variety, and I grew and planted some in field experiments. I have worked as a volunteer to rid a nature preserve of invasive weeds (ongoing, neverending work), and I enjoy playing in my tiny city lot garden. I have friends with amazing gardens. I visit gardens on vacation with my family. I am a member of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens here in Ann Arbor. I like plants and soil and working outdoors.
What a joy to discover a gardener hidden inside my almost-5-year-old nephew. It’s not entirely a surprise. He lived within a stone’s toss of the wonderful Atlanta Botanical Garden for his first years, and we strolled his infant and toddler self through the gardens there many times.
Last weekend, I had a great visit to my sister’s in Atlanta. They’re in a nice house on a wooded lot north of Atlanta. They’ve been there a few years now, and it’s time to make the lot their own. The four of us went to the local landscape nursery to pick out a few plants. My nephew had a great time directing us through the covered yard of flats and pots of plants. Here’s what we got:
- some herbs for cooking – parsley, thyme, cilantro, mint, and rosemary, to be potted on the back deck
- 2 pair gardening gloves – a pair for my nephew, a pair for my sister
- 2 cushy kneeling pads – one for my sister, one for my nephew
- fertilizer for acid-loving plants – to feed the azaleas and holly in my sister’s existing landscaping
- fertilizer for the new plantings that didn’t want acid
- marigolds, coneflower, and …another that escapes me…”lellow” and orange flowered plants
- hostas – shade plants with nice leaf variegation for a forlorn half-circle in the front yard under the trees
- landscape cloth
- potting soil
We got everything home right before dinner, and my nephew was crushed that we’d have to wait a whole night until we planted in the morning. My sister looked at him, looked at me, and said she remembered what it was like to be a kid, how hard it was to wait, maybe he and I could plant a few while she fed my niece?
So, we put the gloves on, got out some ceramic pots and the potting soil and we picked out a few herbs to put in the deck planter. The next morning, we got up early and planted the hostas in the front yard before 9AM so that we could water them fully before the watering ban started up. Digging into the red clay soil was really different for me! Wow. My nephew enjoyed seeing the worms we dug up, and loved helping move the dirt.
I had to fly home before we could plant the last few marigolds, the coneflower, and the other one I’ve already forgotten. My sister phoned and said that my nephew demanded they plant the last few, and this evening he held the pots tenderly while he supervised his father preparing the ground for them.
Planting memories, planting growth. Fun to see my nephew connect to the plants, to the yard, and to one of my favorite pastimes. How nice I was able to be useful and add to their environment in my visit there.