2018-04-18 / Editorials

This time of the year

All That’s Fit to Print
Brenda Wall

This is the time of year of possibilities. Our spring — our long, long spring — keeps the feeling of anything is possible. Time to turn over a new leaf or dig in the ground.

I know you should already have seeds in the ground, but the Monday morning chill makes you think “I still have time to plant lettuce” even though the temperature will be in the 80s later this week.

I was almost grown before I knew people bought plants.

I had a grandmother who could throw flour on the ground and grow wheat. Okay, maybe not that, but she could break a piece off any plant, put it in a jar of water on her kitchen window sill and have a rooted cutting ready to go in the ground in no time.

Her window sills were crowded with cuttings trailing thin white roots in water-filled jelly glasses. A bed of sand by the smoke house nurtured more cuttings and rootings. A seedbed lay nearby, covered in slender green shoots. My granddaddy had worms close by, which might have added to her gardening success.

My grandmother, a shovel and foot tub in the trunk of her car just in case she passed an old home site and spied a bit of color. She also had a pistol in a cigar box under the front seat. When she slammed on brakes, the cigar box flew out from under the seat. New fangled cars have no cigar box room under the seats.

Back to the shovel. A visit with a cousin or a friend may reap the added bonus of a bit of nandina, a clump of daylilies. She never took more than a start.

An afternoon stroll around my grandmother’s yard was a history lesson, a blooming succession of faces and places brought to mind through sweet scents and brilliant colors. At first glance, there was no apparent order but as my grandmother moved from bridal wreath to gardenia to canna, a pattern emerged. Origin and story were paramount in the planning.

The holly and dogwood and redbud stood together just as they grew in the woods of my grandfather’s homeplace. Flag lilies and daffodils, offshoots of my great- grandmother’s garden, crowded their roots. Bridal wreath and tea olive faced off on opposite sides of the yard, just as the two cousins who shared the cuttings stood on opposite sides of the fence about most things.

“I started to plant them together,” my grandmother often said, “but they never could get along.” Then she would shake her head.

She always planted sweet peas and made a trellis with string for them to climb. The cardinal plant with red that rivaled its namesake came from the bank of the creek we swam in as children. Daylilies bordered beds and trees, multiplying and waiting for somebody to take them home. Bricks anchored split limbs of azalea to the ground, holding them in place til the roots took hold. They, too, waited for a new home.

I don’t have her green thumb and I can’t kill a snake. I just make a mess. I really miss her.

Have a good week.

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