My momma, your great grandma Billie, was a gardener. She had gardens that grew flowers and fruit, roses and rhubarb, and she loved coaxing things from the soil. When she was a child in Oklahoma, she struggled against marauding chickens, drought and dust storms to raise a crepe myrtle bush to the ‘majestic’ height of two feet. She even got a few blooms.
When she moved to California during World War II, she had window boxes in her apartment, then she and great grandpa Lowell bought a half finished house in Manhattan Beach and made it into the home of my childhood. After they had gotten the walls and roof on, momma started on the garden and kept working on it for thirty five years, complete with flower garden in the front and veggies behind a rose covered fence. She continued this magic at her last home in Lompoc, where she and great grandpa Lowell turned a wild mustard field into a garden that was featured in a city tour.
I learned gardening from her, and have been happy to play in the dirt at whatever home I found myself. Our new home in Portland doesn’t have much in the way of acreage, but I am finding ways to have fun with it.
The other day, I walked a mile down Stark (stopping for lunch at the Belmont Station) to choose the right pot for a new project: a bonsai forest. Last winter I picked up a few birch and maple seeds and stuck them in pots, and now I have seedlings. It seemed like a perfect time to begin.
Portland Nursery has a huge selection of pots. I needed a shallow, not too big place, so the roots would stay small and the trees could grow in proportion. I found just the right one and spent a happy afternoon building my new make believe place. I have decided to call it The Hundred Acre Wood, after Winnie the Pooh’s home.
Now I will nurture and trim and watch it develop, maybe adding a ceramic snail or fairy along the way.
I will never be the gardener my Momma was, but that’s okay. I am the gardener I have become.