My grandmother would not be amused.



Here is it, well nigh unto Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as her generation sometimes called it – and I have not one bedding plant in the ground. No garish marigolds, no subtle vinca.

My grandmother would not be amused.

Here is it, well nigh unto Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as her generation sometimes called it – and I have not one bedding plant in the ground. No garish marigolds, no subtle vinca.

Yes, we can blame the weather. Three weeks ago we had snow. Not a Guinness Book of World Records event but more of a seriously-what-was-that event.

My grandfather would have had potatoes in the ground ages ago, and the rest of the garden would be green and begging to be weeded by now. Being more citified, and having no real room for a vegetable garden, I’ve made do with a few flowers here and there.

For some reason, I recall a hot, hot day years ago when, for no apparent reason, it was suddenly time to install a large piece of heavy metal as something for Grandma’s clematis to enwrap and thrive upon. I swore murderous threats against clematis, and yet they are kind of pretty and now I have some in the backyard.

It’s funny how we pick those things up.

My grandmother, mother and an uncle are or were all among those people who seem able to grow anything anywhere. I marvel and try to learn, but something is missing.

I try to liken it to cooking. If you can read a recipe and apply a little patience and confidence, I figure, you can reason things out and get the hang of it. That’s substantially true, but I think gardening – potatoes or petunias – requires a certain touch. You have it or you don’t.

Of course, for the citified among us, petunias are an option, a choice we might get around to by Memorial Day weekend or might not. Life is fast and full, and you can’t get to everything.

For my grandparents’ generation – for lots of generations – a good garden wasn’t something pretty for the neighbors to look at. It meant a substantial amount of food on the table. There was a lot less choice to it.

I fret that we have lost a deep sense of the coming and going of seasons, that we’ve forgotten how to grow anything and, I fear, are soon to forget how to cook anything.

By the same token, it’s easy to get a little too caught up in doing things because we’ve always done them. I feel a twinge of something left undone because we’re well into May and I can’t imagine not planting at least a few dozen marigolds in front of the house.

Time torments us. We grow older, and it slips by more quickly. We grow older and see more that needs to be done, and yet we are a step slower. The clock ticks, but there is other work to do, and flowers have to not only be planted but watered and weeded. They are a commitment of yet more time.

And for what? A little beauty noticed by, well, who exactly besides the waterer and weeder and maybe the postman?

Perhaps the beauty is noticed by my late grandmother, who is somewhere tapping her foot and expecting me to get moving this weekend. Spanish marigolds would be a good start.



Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.