Monday, March 12, 2012

Know When To Hoe Them, Know When To Walk Away

I planted our bed of miniature hosta eleven years ago on the day that my fellow jurors and I sent a twenty-year old man to prison for the rest of his life.

The trial took seven days. Our jury deliberation took less than two hours. There were eleven different charges of varying degrees of severity - attempted murder being the most serious. We voted secretly on that one and we all said "guilty". Then we went through the remaining charges one-by-one and came to the same decision on each of them. Because it went so quickly we wanted to sleep on our decisions. So we adjourned for the rest of the day.

When I got home that afternoon the package of shade-tolerant, large leafed, perennial flowers that we mail-ordered had arrived. It was a warm April day and my mind needed something basic, earthy, and positive to focus on while by non-verbal components of my thoughts came to agreement with my conscious, articulated ones.

Planting the hosta worked – sort of. After about one hour of combining compost, topsoil, dirt and newbie plants all of my lingering unease had changed into calm certainty In the process however, some of the infant perennials found their way into the earth with their spindly roots flapping in the air. Mars fortunately noticed the unintentional inversion when she came home from work and I set things upright.

In spite of their rough start and less than ideal growing conditions – very shallow hard soil surrounded by rocks on one side and overly aggressive pachysandra on the other – they have thrived.

I uncovered their flowerbed yesterday as one of the last acts of my annual early March “search for green.” Daffodil leaves had already poked their way through the left over dried leaves that covered them for the winter, so I removed their cover to give them more sunlight. Sedum pods revealed themselves as I crouched and gently raked way their crunchy brown blanket. And the tips of day lilies were beginning to break the surface of their planting mounds when I cut away the strands of dead stalks that lay across them.

Our two other hosta plots showed no signs of life. But that’s not unusual for this time of year. However, in the “mini” bed eight broods of tiny, pale-brown baby-bird-beak-like starters appeared in each of the small hosta nests. At the moment they look lifeless and hopeless but, once again based upon heretofore hosta history, I know they’ll be fine when spring really arrives.
At the trial the next morning our group took a quick check for any second thoughts, and – there being none – told the judge that we were ready to announce our verdict.

When I left the courthouse I was hyperactive with relief. It was a good thing that I had already planted the mini hosta. If I had tried on this day I probably would have spiked the little guys directly into the earth like an exuberant football receiver after catching the game-winning touchdown pass.

I went back to my office to work. Gardening is much too important to me to try it on an adrenaline high.

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