I would like to be good at gardening. In my dream world, I fancy myself pruning and cultivating award-winning gardens with little landscape lights and lush, healthy grass, neatly trimmed. I can see rose bushes bursting with blossoms and a little pond with lily pads and water hyacinths.
The best I've ever been able to accomplish, however, involves overgrown honeysuckle bushes that take over like the Mongolian hordes of yore and tulip stems with no tulips on them because the dog has eaten them and fire bushes that are half-dead and look like they've actually been on fire. Also, I seem to recall hardened dog turds scattered around frail olive trees that produced no olives and a slimy pond attended by chipped or broken miniature porcelain trolls with butt-cleavage a plumber would envy.
This is why we enjoy living in the city. We have no yard to tend but we do live in a very green complex. Our balcony looks out onto a courtyard with trees and grass nurtured by Luis, our portero. We have hammocks out there and the railing of our terrace is lined with ivy that is relatively easy to keep trimmed. We have tried tending some potted plants but even those shrivel up and die like Cuba Gooding, jr's career. Funnily enough, under Luis' care, the identical plants flourish. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what his secret is. Maybe it's because he waters them.
I believe this post should actually be entitled “Gardening: the lack thereof”. Regrettably, I did not inherit my Mom’s green thumb. She was great with plants. I am not. All the plants we currently have are outside on the balcony because our wood floors mark very easily and very permanently. Of course I forget they (the plants) are out there. But they are still hanging on. They might not be pretty, but they are alive. Somewhat.
I have a pot of red geraniums which is ironically doing OK. My Mom loved them, so I bought them because they remind me of her. It makes me smile to see they survived the winter and there are red blooms again.
My biggest gardening failure is hydrangeas. I love them. Thing is, they are not cheap. I have bought two potted ones since we lived in Spain. Both them died violent and definite deaths. They clearly do not like me. The first one was on my stairs, in direct hot Spanish sun, so I thought that was the problem. The next one was placed tenderly on my shaded balcony here in the city. Nope. Nothing doin.’ Dead, dead, dead.
My greatest gardening success last summer was growing basil in one of the planters on the balcony. I bought two plants and enjoyed many a batch of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. I am looking forward to planting more this summer, now that I know it’s a good location.
But I hope our tomatoes don’t have salmonella!