Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Every flower deserves a garden~

Our yard is a mixture of our personalities, my husband's and mine. He likes straight lines, defining edges, fences. I like curving lines with an overflow of plants cascading onto the walkway or lawn.

He trims the forsythia into a boxy hedge. I tell him the blooms would be better if he let it twist and tumble like it wants.

He prefers factual conversation, a logical progression of information that has a purpose. I speak when the thought arises, often just a comment with no point except observation. I speculate, I wonder. This is uncomfortable for him.

"What's the point?" he says?

"Does there need to be a point?" I ask.

He has a system for mowing the lawn: he alternates between vertical, horizontal and diagonal passes each time he mows. He keeps the lawn cropped like a military crew cut. I prefer the tangly length that gets caught between my toes when I wander in bare feet, the kind that folds under me without scratching when I lie on my back to stare at the clouds through the branches of the elm.

He reads the paper for the facts, for the news. I go first for the editorials, the opinions of others shared in letters to the editor. He reads one book; I read several at a time., although neither of us might finish.

I got home from an appointment, changed into shorts, and headed out into the yard. Bruce was anxious to show me what he'd been doing in the yard. I was taking the "tour."

He pointed to the brick walk we stood on. "I transplanted the flower that was growing between the bricks," he said.

"What? Where did you put it?" He looked up at the sound of alarm in my voice. I sounded far more concerned about a scraggly Johnny Jump-up than even I thought reasonable.

"I put it under the butterfly bush," he said. "Why?"

"That flower was . . . a symbol . . . to me," I said weakly. "I wrote a blog about it." Even I knew this sounded . . . well, odd.

The flower was a Johnny Jump-up that managed to escape from the garden to stand alone in the walkway. It had struck me as an individualistic thing to do. If I were a Johnny Jump-up, I'd like to be far from the madding crowd, too.

But my husband-- a man of fences, rows, and flowers held in place by poles and wires-- saw it as something that needed to be captured and corralled, and put it back behind a wall where all good flowers belong.

It actually flourished under the bush; there was more shade, more room to spread its roots. There was another Johnny-Jump-up there already. I knew it was a good move for the tiny plant, although I never said anything.

Later more jump-ups leaped the garden's edge, or tunneled their roots underneath, and bloomed between the bricks in the walk. My neat and trim husband left them there. Somehow he'd understood.

This week they became so scraggly and over-grown and unhappy looking that I pulled them up, and tossed them in the compost. They would have been better off with the one my husband transplanted. Maybe every flower deserves a garden.

Read The American garden~ to see the Johnny jump-up.


rain said...

I understand this dynamic, although I think I am much more like your husband. I like things organized and linear. Although I do love Johnny Jump Ups. We had them on our wedding cake. They pop up here and here on the walkway of my mother in law's herb garden. I think that they create their own gardens as they go.

Voyager said...

Oh, I understand completely. Once a tomatoe plant began growing randomly in the middle of my lawn. It must have come from some compost I spread in the spring. I made my husband mow around it, staked it, and even gave it tomatoe food. It never had a single ripe fruit, there was too much shade. But what a symbol of hope and persistance. I loved that little plant.

Ruth D~ said...

Rain~ Being linear is good. You get things done. Although, I get things done in my own zig zaggy way. Bit by bit, with a lot of breaks. :>)

Voyager~ My husband left the Johhny jump-ups in the walk, and a couple milkweed plants in the flower garden, but nothin but grass ever is allowed to grow on the lawn. I've seen my husband raom the lawn and hand pick the smallest invaders. But I love the idea of the tomato in the lawn. "Mystery plants" I call them. The ones that spring up from a dropped compost seed. No mysteries allowed on the lawn.

Dawn said...

I think you and I are sisters and our husband's are twins. You described the differences between you and your husband beautifully -- you could have been talking about Derrol and me! And your photos are lovely as always!


Janice Thomson said...

How wonderfully you complement each other Ruth. Your marriage would never be dull or static. I loved how you both saw each other's point of view in the end - he, in leaving the plant and you, in plucking it.
We're never to old to learn things.

Ruth D~ said...

Dawn~ Thanks. Funny how people seem to arrange themselves into types (or stereotypes?), isn't it.

Janice~ Dull or static it's not. It would be nice if at least one of us wasn't so stubborn though. :>)