Pandemic Green and Gardening

Is it just me, or do the trees, wildflowers, and grasses appear more lush, vibrant, and full this year? Well maybe not in Ohio where you had snow for Mother’s Day! But here in South Carolina things are growing like crazy. My 20-year old maple has never had a more beautiful canopy. Thousands of yellow wildflowers carpet the medians, ditches, and pastures. An elderly friend told me last night she couldn’t remember a time when her yard was so full of violets, making her lawn purplish. She thought it was lovely.

As I’ve taken notice, I’ve wondered if this isn’t a pandemic blessing. I remember a year ago how blue the sky was without the planes flying, and the cars, trucks, and trains sitting idle. I have to believe the cleaner air has made a difference with all the trees and flowers, and the pollinators that feed on them. I can almost hear in the rustling of leaves and the swaying of flower clusters, ‘I can breathe again!’

Breathe. A natural process that we so often don’t even think about until it’s interrupted, or we have to notice. Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s Day and I’m sure I’m not the only one-moms and their breathing partners-who remembers that controlled breathing for those last pushes. Breathe. A word that took on so many nuances this past year with masks, social distancing, ventilators, and George Floyd.

My wish for all of us as we push through this pandemic is that we never again take for granted this simple process of inhaling and exhaling. That we step outside, take deep breaths and notice the new trending color for 2021 – Pandemic Green.                                    

One of two peonies in my yard and this is the first time in 7 years it’s bloomed.

Last Wednesday I posted this quote from Alfred Austin, “We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.” Gardening is what I did last month when I needed a break from celebrating National Poetry Month.

I put in a garden last spring, but that was more for therapy than for eating and preserving, even though I still have butternut squash puree in the freezer. The last real garden I had was five or six years ago so it was time.

Our yard has only a couple inches of brown dirt, then it turns into red clay – it’s like digging in brick. I’d dismantled the old raised beds last fall and started over this spring. Building them and mixing the bags of compost and vermiculite to fill them were physically and mentally wonderful. I have six of these beds.

Unfortunately a week after putting in tomato plants and the day after planting seeds, Mother Nature decided to have a little fun. We had a freeze two nights – a week past South Carolina’s ‘No Frost’ date so I had to cover all the plants. Then the following night we expected a deluge. Watering is important for gardens, but I could image all the seeds I’d planted-which hadn’t had time to germinate and take root-washing away and gathering all in the same corner. So that night I covered the beds with tarps.

As I worked to protect my little hobby garden from the elements, all I could think about were the farmers and produce growers, like Phyllis and Joe from the farmers’ market, who do this for a living. How their whole livelihood is dependent on the weather. How hard they work and how vulnerable they are. And how all of that makes the miracle of seeing things grow all the more fulfilling, which you can see in their faces when they talk about their greens and radishes and carrots . . .  

My little garden is turning green. I’ll give an update later but now it’s time to water everything and check my tomatoes for aphids.

St. Hildegard of Bingen, Patroness of Gardeners

Closing with another quote from Alfred Austin, “The glory of gardening; hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

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3 Responses to Pandemic Green and Gardening

  1. quinonesev1 says:

    Great entry, Kim. I remember taking a photo at Lansford Park where the greens were so bright that it hurt my eyes!! It was beautiful-

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