Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Red bud
Calla lilies
Apple blossoms
Cherry blossoms
Peach blossoms
Pear blossoms
Tulip tree
Wild mandarin
Wild flowers (six different kinds)

These are all the flowers I saw blooming today as I walked or rode through the village. I love flowers. I've always felt the need to pick flowers and have fresh ones in a vase (or ten vases!) somewhere in my house -- no matter the season. Here in Georgia, I am able to pick flowers a good deal sooner than I ever could in Pennsylvania. (Today, one of my beautiful little fourth-graders gave me a bouquet of daffodils and calla lilies from her yard.)

I have always kept a flower garden. Even when living in an apartment, I made flower gardens and grew whatever I could. There is something wonderful about getting into the dirt -- manipulating it to give life to seeds -- encouraging it to support root systems -- watering it to allow plants to bloom. It's the most basic stuff of life -- dirt, water, plants, flowers. Working the soil gives me satisfaction on a different level from any other accomplishment -- on the primal level of mere existence.

Tea has a flower garden, but she doesn't know much about the flowers nor how to care for them. Her mother-in-law put the garden in (this is her house) -- but in her absence, Tea does her best to care for them. A few days ago, I asked Tea for something that I could use to prune the rose bushes and other plants in the flower garden. She gave me some snippers, and I went off happily to tend to the rose bushes and other plants.

It is a little late for trimming rose bushes -- the best time to cut them back is in late winter when the very first signs of growth show in the tiny red buds that pop out on the stems of the bush. But, better late than never! I cut back all the roses -- 10 or 12 plants, trimmed a small palm tree, pulled out last year's stems from a few plants, and shaped up a shrub.

Tea came out to see what I was doing as I was contemplating trimming the last rose bush. It was growing lopsided, so I was looking for the best places to cut it. I showed her how to cut the stems to force the plant to grow in the best possible way -- cutting just above the new growth that appears on the outside of the stem. Trimming all the stems just above the outward-growing buds will allow the plant to grow evenly in all directions, leaving enough room in the center for branching without overcrowding. It's not rocket science, but until one thinks about it logically, the how and why of pruning can seem a bit daunting.

It was so nice to be in touch with plants again. I have missed tending to plants of any kind -- indoor or outdoor. The next thing we have to do is turn over the dirt in the garden. Maybe this weekend.... it will be good to play in the dirt!

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