Gardening is one of my most loved and longest standing interests. It is also one of the things I am worst at.
Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true. I’m definitely better at gardening than I am at other things that are easier to take for granted, like obtaining a driver’s license and telling time on an analog clock. But it doesn’t come naturally to me, either. I hate getting up early. I have a terrible time remembering whether or not I’ve had anything to drink in the last twelve hours, much less whether or not my plants have. It’s been four years since I had anything resembling an outdoor space of my own, and in that time I have lived in four different plant hardiness zones and six different apartments, all with varying levels of sunlight. I know nothing about fertilizer, I am determined to grow tomatoes everywhere I go whether they belong there or not, and I base most of my planting decisions around which dollar store seed packet looks the most exciting. My track record for keeping plants alive, much less thriving, is less than spectacular.
All that said, tending to a tiny, misshappen seedling and seeing it put out its first leaves and turn into the sunlight is one of the happiest and most life-affirming experiences I can imagine having. A plant thriving because of (read: despite) my care and patience and seeing that plant visited by pollinators and the curious neighborhood cats and the occasional asshole rabbit pointlessly taking a single bite out of every single tomato on the vine gives me a sense of calm and purpose that I don’t entirely know how to describe. it’s downright inspiring.
Living in a house with a tiny plant sprouting in every room gives me the emotional stability and energy to do completely unrelated things: apply for new jobs, refine painting techniques, put more time into studying things I truly care about, share my thoughts with others without backing down at the last second due to overwhelming anxiety. The list goes on.
Garden plants have been a wonderful muse to me for a number of years, and a celebration of their will to overcome my sheer ineptitude is long overdue. Here’s to every grocery store cactus, underwatered bamboo, overwatered zinnia, and stunted rosemary I’ve ever been lucky enough to have in my home. Each and every one of them was beautiful.