Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have been having this strange urge to work in the yard this spring. Specifically, to grow flowers. This is somewhat odd since, to put it nicely, I do not have a green thumb. I don't even attempt to keep houseplants, because the only ones hardy enough to withstand my poisonous touch are also the kinds babies can't eat. And we still eat everything around here.

However, all winter I have thought about clearing out the leaves, trimming up the bushes, breaking up the soil and planting some happy little bursts of color in my yard. Maybe it's some sort of latent motherly drive: Must grow. Must nurture. Must cultivate. Must cut and display in cute vases around my house. (Okay, that last one is more Martha Stewart than motherly, I'll admit.)

So strong was this urge that I actually did something very uncomfortable: I went to the garden store and asked for help. I did not attempt to pull my little wagon around and pick up plants as if I was a seasoned gardener; nor did I eavesdrop on other shoppers' conversations about gardening to glean information. When the friendly sales person said, "If you have questions, let me know!" I latched on to her as if she were my only hope. She was probably expecting to answer questions like where are the begonias? or could you suggest a good fertilizer?, but I lit into her with my list of yard woes. We have too much shade. There's this shrub we have that's hideous. Our soil doesn't drain well. I have no idea how to take care of plants. It was like free therapy! She was incredibly helpful, and maybe just a little pitying of me in my ignorance. She suggested some beautiful flowers that were, quote, "impossible to kill" and told me exactly what to do to keep them looking nice. I have plans to find this same lady next week when I attack the back yard and milk her for more information.

On the personal growth front, this was huge for me. Not the planting flowers part, just the willingness to ask questions part. I love to learn--I would be a full-time professional college student if it were up to me--but I hate, hate to admit I cannot figure something out on my own. I took a B in one of my literary criticism classes because I could not bring myself to ask the professor to explain the reading assignments to me. I will not go to a running store to buy new shoes because I don't want them to see that I'm barely classified as a beginning runner. I throw away sewing projects when I can't get the zipper in straight. My mom says I was even like this as a child: If I could not do something right on the first try, I would just walk away and conclude I couldn't do it at all.

At the ripe old age of 31, I realize there is too much I still need to know about marriage, parenting, discipleship, friendship to keep pretending that I already have all the answers. I want to be humble enough to admit I can't do everything right on the first try. I want to be curious enough to ask questions. I want to appreciate the wisdom and experience of others. I want to be passionate enough to risk looking foolish. I want to learn.

And I want to grow flowers.


Hannah said...

I can't wait to see your yard! What kind of flowers did you plant? Impatiens are good for shade. I would be glad to help you anytime. Brandon and I love to work in our yard. We just finished a big project ourselves. You'll have to come by and see it.

Polly said...

You can do anything you put your mind to! Good luck with the flowers!