Grow Write Guild #12: Describe fall in your garden in 5 to 10 words.

Grow Write Guild’s prompt #12 is ambitious, and I am verbose. I can, however, summarize fall in my garden in 17 syllables:

Oak leaves drift earthward

Fire up the chipper-shredder.

Compost on the way.

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Grow Write Guild #11: Grow Your Own

The Grow Write Guild’s current prompt is Your Edible Rewards.

The last thing I ate that came from my own garden was mint, which I prepared in a sauce for a delicious North African pork tenderloin recipe. My collection of edibles is meager; having a garden of large oaks means wonderful shade for our semi-tropical summers, but they do cut down on the prospective edible landscape. My edibles, except for some blueberries, reside in pots on the deck.

I am, however, planning to experiment next year by intermingling more food crops with the sun-hogging shrubs and perennials on the south side of my garden. Okra, I know, will do very well; I love a good grilled summer squash but fear that if I’m not careful about the selection the plant may overtake not only the shrubbery but my neighbor’s driveway as well:

exuberant mystery squash

This is a vining-type squash that has overrun the small community garden I oversee. I apologize for the poor-quality photo. I don’t know the variety–the seeds came in a seed-swap and were labeled “squash.” I am reminded to be less frugal with information whenever I share seeds with friends.

I also hope to expand my collection of container-grown veg by delving into the world of bush varieties: bush beans and tomatoes, peas (challenging with our volatile spring weather), compact peppers, and eggplant, and by researching and experimenting with more exotic vegetables from Africa or Asia that perform in hot, humid climates.

Every gardener faces challenges when growing her (or his) own food: if it’s not the infernal weather, it’s plagues of insects, varieties that don’t live up to their promises, pollinators that don’t show, or the wildlife that is so charming when it’s beyond the fence, but less so when it takes precisely one bite out of each tomato on the vine, which of course we were planning to harvest tomorrow. So for me, I try to find my rewards in the process of growing, of observing nature in its cycles, and if I have anything to snack on at the end of it all, then that’s cause for celebration in itself. So it’s a good thing that I have mint for the mojitos.

Grow Write Guild # 9

The prompt for Grow Write Guild #9 is to change the lyrics of a song to reflect your relationship with a particular plant or food crop.

With sincere apologies to Barbra, Neil, and songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman:

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore

You don’t bring me flowers  nearly dead rosemary bush

You don’t bring me fresh herbs.
You hardly look too green anymore.
Just a bare pile of gore
Just a mess of decay.
I remember when….

You used to be so shrubby
You used to have such green leaves rosemary first transplanted

Now after two long months in low light
It’s not good for you, babe.
You’ve clearly got mites.
Well, you just mold over
Like you’ve got a blight.
And you don’t bring me flowers anymore.

rosemary in flower

It used to be so natural.
I thought you’d grow forever.
But honeybees don’t come anymore.
They just fly past your lack of a floral display.

And baby, I remember
All the joy you brought me.
I learned how to cook Provençal roasts and pies.
Well, I learned how to prune you, though needles poked my eye.
So you’d think I could learn how to tell you goodbye.
‘Cause you don’t bring me flowers anymore.

Well, you’d think I could learn how to tell you goodbye.
You don’t flavor meat & three
You don’t bring the bees’ song
You don’t bring me flowers anymore.

Grow Write Guild #3: A change that does me good

The Grow Write Guild’s third assignment is to describe the garden at present; stop, observe, and enjoy.

My garden is presently divided into rooms. Some are fairly well-kept, some are being refurbished, and alas, there are some on which the door had better be kept shut.

But everywhere I look, the scene is lush with fresh shades of green: lime, olive, emerald, forest, apple, bronze, blue. In a single week the garden has transformed. A week ago, I could stand at my back door and see perfectly clearly the Carrot Lady‘s house. Continue reading

Grow Write Guild #2: Arcadia

The second prompt for the Grow Write Guild is to describe my fantasy garden.

The prompt was intended to move us away from memory and into vision, but I am intrigued to realize that the garden of my dreams, however its details change in my imagination, must be connected in some way to my past experience of the natural world. For me, it cannot be otherwise. The gardens we make as adults, I think, are representations of things we long for, whether or not we articulate them or are even aware of them. The garden I make now, and the one I long to make if time and money were no objects, are points on a continuum stretching out from a specific point in my beginning. They are connected to memories of a place where I always felt safe, happy, independent, at ease, and fully present in the moment: my grandparents’ farm. Continue reading

Grow Write Guild #1: In the beginning…

I’m taking up Gayla Trail‘s challenge to be part of the Grow Write Guild, a collection of writers or gardeners of one stripe or another who wish to practice telling their garden stories. Gayla’s first prompt, posted today, is to write about my first plant.

I know that when I was in kindergarten, I walked with my classmates on a field trip to a local garden center, where we each picked out an annual to plant in a small bed in front of the school. I picked out a marigold because I liked its spicy smell, and probably because it was the first thing I came to. At age 5, I hadn’t cultivated the skill of browsing. I became depressed Continue reading