I remember when I first started the process of removing rocks from landscaping walls. We had just moved in, it was 2003, and there were rocks everywhere. I dreamed of growing beautiful gardens everywhere, but I didn’t know the first thing about gardening. First, I planted mint, then sage, then oregano. The next season, one by one, I removed the rocks from the next garden and planted chives, valerian, tarragon, lavender, and raspberries. Eventually, year by year, almost every inch of grass was removed as well and replaced with asparagus, rhubarb, sweetgrass, a peach tree, grapes, butterfly weed, blackberries, the list goes on and on.
It is a constant labor of love, this idea of gardening. I had no idea how much it would consume my heart. Each little plant root established has become an old friend. Each little plant spirit is a small and delicate reminder that even in the city I am still connected to the earth through her soil, her busy pollinators, the warmth of the sun, each of us needing that drink of fresh clean water together.
Now, the gardens are full of spaces for growing seasonal plants that provide food to my family. This summer is the 10th year of my great experiment to grow food. Every year my gardens and I separate for a month, sometimes two months, as I journey north with my children to fill our spirits with Manitoulin Island. Some years friends have cared for the gardens, other years they have been left to chance life with natural rainfall. This year I celebrated in setting the gardens up with a soaker hose sprinkler system that would put everyone, each of my sweet little food plants, on fresh water autopilot until I return in August.
This year has a new lesson. As I was talking with my beautiful neighbor, now good friend, about our bees I asked her what my gardens were looking like. Hoping for resounding response of lush and beauty, instead I heard some dry, some struggling. I heard an echo from a master gardener on the island about loving your garden every day, starting your day with a coffee and walk through your garden. Saying good morning, looking for dryness, mold, bugs…a healthy garden is the result of a labor of everyday love. Attached but yet separated, I am looking forward to resuming my daily walk in my garden to say good morning, pluck some weeds around each of the pants, and give to them as they will eventually give back to me.