This is where I started--a woman who had never successfully kept a house plant alive, with two plants, some store-bought daffodils, and a Target bargain bin forget-me-not seed pack in a tin bucket.
It was supposed to be a slow experiment, but as my forget-me-not plant started sprouting, and my other plants stayed alive, I added to it.
I put citronella tea lights in pretty votive holders, and bought solar garden lights.
I watched things grow and bloom.
And then I bought a gnome, and my garden became Official.
I even added a whirly-gig. Things were getting serious.
I planted, and watered. Some things thrived, some did not. Gardening, it turns out, involves some trial and error.
I found one of my old Little People at Mom and Dad's house. Figured he'd like gardening.
I smugly ate basil I had grown. Definitely tastes better than store-bought.
I sang "Hello, Dahlia" to my dahlias, and even though I wasn't that successful with them that time, I enjoyed them while they were here, and I plan to try them again.
I fell in love with fuscias, who prefer shade, and so were relegated to a pot at the back of my patio.
And still, it grew. I decided to try a larger, tree-like Tropicana Black (left).
After visiting Summer in Arizona, I bought some succulents, including this small cactus plant.
I added fun details like Grandpa Bean's old scale.
The hummingbirds started coming. Word spread that there was a feeder, and also two cats to taunt.
All through my garden's second spring and summer, things thrived. My lantana plants made me so happy. Petunias became one of my easiest plants.
Mom bought me a few little plant stands so I could add levels and layers.
The cactus went wild.
Dad's friend gave me a small trellis for my newly-purchased mandevilla, which likes to climb.
I used gardening to help me deal with my stress the night Mom had her tumor removed. I used it to keep us both up as she was too weak to work in her own garden. And when she died, I used it to stay sane in my grief...and, perhaps, to honor her. So much of what I have learned is thanks to advice she gave me.
She remains my garden angel. And my garden is one of the first places I go to talk to her.
I like to think that perhaps she's sending it a little love now and again. My cactus certainly seems to be feeling the love.
And still, my garden grows. At the end of the season last year, it was solidly thriving. A few arrangements that Dad and I got at Mom's memorial ended up yielding some lasting plants, including an ivy that is absolutely loving life even know.
A month or so ago, Dad and I lugged Mom's old outdoor bakers rack up the stairs to my condo, and I put it out on the balcony. One morning during Spring Break, I spent a couple of hours out there, up to my elbows in soil, my nails filthy with it, smiling and talking to my plants as I cleaned them up from a long, rainy winter. Some got fresh soil, and a couple were deemed un-savable, but most made it through and some were even starting an early spring bloom cycle.
The sweat flowed and the soil covered me, and I happily "spring-ified" my little balcony garden, making it more spectacular than ever.
I added a proper herb planter, instead of my usual pot of basil. I have rosemary, cilantro, mint, and basil. Today, I cut some rosemary to use with potatoes.
My garden is bigger than ever, and bringing me so much joy. Sometimes I sit out there as hummingbirds buzz in to have a drink, and marvel at how I have made it all work. Other times, I sit on my sofa and gaze out at my handiwork, thinking how lucky I am to have such a comfortable home. Always, I think of Mom, and how my garden honors her.
And I smile.