Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunflowers for Love
They now provide striking scenery in my garden beds because my wife asked me to plant them.
I think it's important to realize gardening is more than what you think it should be. Avid gardeners have a vision and toil long and hard to bring that vision to life, literally. Too often gardeners plant what they want, where they want, and how they want without realizing that their efforts impact the people around them. Though I'm the only one in my household who digs and plants and prunes and weeds and waters, my family and friends anxiously await the results of my labors. They enjoy the beauty of the flowers and songs of the birds and lazy fluttering of the butterflies that my garden creates. They enjoy the fresh summer salad with tomatoes, and cucumbers, and basil from my garden.
My family and friends influence my gardening. And when your family and friends influence your garden, it offers them a sense of partial ownership and their appreciation for you and your efforts grows. My wife asks often how the garden is doing, if the tomatoes are growing, if the hail destroyed anything new. But she asks most often about the sunflowers and journeys to that section of the yard, more than before, to see their progress. Though restrained, her enthusiasm in the last week was noticeable as they bloomed. In a sense, that's her section of the garden because she created the idea of sunflowers.
My daughter loves the pickled green beans that I make at the end of each season. My wife and I fostered our relationship because she loved the same pickled green beans I served at a Christmas party. Though I don't especially enjoy their taste, I grow dozens of plants so I can have a big harvest and make jars and jars of pickled green beans for my daughter and wife. I'm not just gardening for me, I'm gardening for them. They play a major role in how I garden.
People often enjoy viewing what they aren't capable of producing. Be it a painting by a Renaissance master or the tomatoes in their grandmother's backyard, people appreciate beauty in whatever form it takes. I believe they appreciate it more when they feel they had a role to play in its development. Think about the school projects from kids or grandkids that adorn the refrigerator door; familiarity with the "artist" improves the perceived quality of the work.
Gardeners are artists on many levels. Through your passion you create beauty on the canvas of your landscape. Use the people around you as muses for your canvas.
If your son-in-law likes snapdragons, grow a few snapdragons. Grow pumpkins for the sole reason of having your kids turn them into jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. When your grandmother stops bringing strawberry-rhubarb pie to Thanksgiving dinner, grow your own strawberries and rhubarb and make the pie yourself. After your friend casually mentions a new hobby of decorating gourds, surprise her next year with the dozens that you grew.
Take inspiration from everyone around you. In that way you're sharing your gardening in a way you didn't envision when you planted your first seed years ago. The people close to you will recognize it and appreciate it. You may even appreciate your own efforts more.