Wow, It's Beautiful Now!

New Flowers that were expected to die
I think the prettiest thing in the world was sunflowers in the back of our yard in Dayton,Ohio when I was a little girl. I use to climb up our big hill and look at those huge stalks with the flowers that seem to tower over me and think they were magnificent. That looked like sunshine that you could stare at without feeling like your eye sockets were getting burned like when you looked at the sun on hot summer days.  There were also some vegetables up there, a small garden with the sunflowers on the side, and I remember some fruit, strawberries in particular. As much as I enjoyed that small garden, seeing it anyways and eating what is in it,  it didn’t take long into my adult life to figure out that I was not born with a gene to plant.

But unfortunately for my ex-husband, he thought it was a lack of exposure. He felt that, with enough experience I would grow fond of it, my children also. With a brother that had a degree in horticulture and with his many years of working a side job in the nursery business, he was quite well-versed in landscaping and gardening.  In sharp contrast, I was limited to knowing the difference between a tree and a bush, most of the time anyways.

Thus, I was thrown in my thirties into a world I was not ready for or adept at in the least. It struck me as funny but he found it anything but humorous. I suppose, because of this, I found it even funnier. It is kind of like when someone messes up at church and you aren’t suppose to laugh and then it becomes twice as funny. This boyfriend  soon to be fiance, decided his goal in life was to upscale my yard. Before I blinked it seemed, my kids and I were pulling into a yard that was once fronted with   the 3.5 shrubs with a perfect line of marigolds or petunias  in front  to a montage of plants all across the front yard complete with railroad ties etching out areas.  Each tree was surrounded by flower beds completely full of flowers in bloom!

Let’s just say, at that point in my life, when folks asked me where I lived, I was into landmarks for directions.  Given the way our yard looked, especially in comparison to others, it stood out. I said our home was situated in the yard that looked like Fantasy Island’s set, particularly in the backyard! Oh yes, we even had steps cut into the hillside in the back complete with plant beds going up both sides of those steps and across the top of the hill. If that is not enough, the above ground pool was torn out of there, eye sore he explained.  In its place, he put in a hand-laid stone patterned tile patio in a geometric shape, complete with flower beds on each side.
I recall people coming down the street and asking to come to the back of our yard just to gawk at it and even some to take pictures.  If he would have let me, I would have charged. I was a single mother and needed the income.  Once he moved in, it is safe to say, our yard looked like he single-handedly had bought out the nursery!   
The house quickly sold, mostly due to all the landscaping, curbside appeal I was told by the real estate agent is what it is referred to.  I was commended for my work and thought process, though I told her repeatedly it was not due to me. She didn’t believe, she thought I was a mastermind, like somehow I had this whip and got this man to work his buns off doing all this stuff. If I had that kind of power lady, would I be living in an average sub-division?  Would my kids and I be starving and eating out for nights out at Taco Bell?

Eventually,  we moved to a 5 ½ acre plot of land I had bought with the profit from the sale of my home and used what was left for a down payment on the purchase of a new house we were going to have built. I had made out like a bandit on the sale so had plenty of money to buy the land and build the next house.  No thought came to mind that with all that land, more yard work and this time round, I was going to be pulled into it big-time and my kids! Nor did I even think for one minute who could attempt to outdo what was done on the other home, I mean this plot was huge in comparison to the other place!  Who does that?

Before the foundation was even laid, we were going out there doing land duty. This consisted of cleaning out nasty tree limbs, hatching or some word like that that entailed getting our arms and legs all scratched up and throwing a million nasty things into a big huge ugly smelly fire. We hated it, that is three of us and one person loved it, him.  And time-frame for doing this was usually starting at like 6 AM. and maybe him calling it quits at 7 PM. if we were lucky. Our only break was lunch which consisted of a hot dog cooked over that nasty fire and a bag of chips. It was eaten because this was hard back-breaking work for us. At times we were breaking down tree stumps.

It was a never ending job. About the time it was cleaned up beyond recognizable from when it was first purchased and I had foolishly believed a lot of the natural look would be left, more plans came rolling along. Next in place was a garden and a greenhouse. A greenhouse was built out of fiberglass panels from my employer at the time, that was quite large compared to what normal neighbors would have in a yard to start plants from seedlings with shelving units inside and special lighting, etc…  For a city girl, I was way outside my comfort zone. This is the same girl who stared at sunflowers but didn’t plant them!

I have to stop and explain to you, none of the three of us, my daughter, my son or I were into this at all!  No, we were not even good sports about it. His idea of start time was like a farmer, when the sun comes up, and we were not like that ever.  In fact, if he woke up early and it was still dark and wanted us working, he made the sun.  If the project was huge, he took large projection lights and beamed them on the garden or the area we were to be working on so light was not an issue. Can you picture the three of us city people out there with this guy humming so excited to be out there in the country and the three of us feeling like we were walking through hell’s gates? 

The size of the garden to us was like a doggone farm! When the corn came in, he must have planned it the year it came in the hardest to be out of town. It was a killer crop.  We were commanded to shuck it all and freeze it. There was so much to pull and hull, I had to borrow a pick-up truck and literally drive it through the rows of corn for us to pull it off the stalks, row after row, truckload after truckload.

We hulled till our first layer of skin went numb and began to peel from blisters.  Then we blanched the cobs in the large dishwasher and sat for hours on end cutting corn off the cob and bagging it for the freezer.  for us to load up corn, hull and then blanch in a large dishwasher we had.You can imagine the joy of my two teenagers, sitting at a table for hours on end and no ear pieces to gab on the phone. I told them they could invite friends over to help. Amazing, no one came.

The tomatoes were so plentiful we use to play baseball with the rotties to try to get rid of some. I tell you everything that went in that garden grew like wildflower! He was constantly getting horse manure from horse farms and I don’t know if that was it or what but we had a regular working farm and it about killed me!   I made all kinds of sauces for weeks on end.  The work involved was insane. How anyone could ever find that fun was beyond me.  My kids and I felt like indentured servants. Most of the time I let them slip off feeling certain they would run away from home anyways if I made them stay.

I vowed, when I left, I would never plant another damn seed in my life!  There were times when he would hand us 20 bags of seeds and we would head to the green house and have to plant row after row of seeds. We would each be told there was to be no more than 3 seeds in each hole and exactly how deep and big each hole had to be. And then we would each be checked on.  I thought he liked to live on the wild side letting me plant them. If he wanted perfection, he picked the wrong three people for planting because my two kids were right up there with me when it came to green thumbs. And they were loving it as much as me!

When I moved to Tennessee, luckily my husband now was not into planting, horticulture and landscaping! Yes, a match made in heaven or should I say on earth?  I quickly learned, as you have to have a base of plants around your house anywhere you live to make it look presentable, that rock is beneath everything in Nashville. Underneath the entire state of Tennessee, apparently is a rock. What a perfect excuse to not over plant or over worry if nothing grows.  You gotta love that?

It is so hot much of the time in the south that laboring in your yard is a must only for those that enjoy sweating profusely and own stock in the water company.  And when I did attempt it, I had zippo luck as before. I realized that no wonder they say it is the land of cotton!   Very hard unless you are persistent to get things to grow here.

But we tried. We have put things out, yearly. We have added and taken things away time to time. But, something happened. This spring something changed. Call it my green miracle. All of the sudden, spring and now summer has come and my yard looks like paradise!  I am flabbergasted.

Our magnolia tree that floundered for years but has steadily hung in there. This
Magnolia Tree, 2nd life
year it is like it has gone through a southern revival of some sort! It has gotten big, more beautiful and is full of blooms!  When you walk by it, it smells wonderful.    

 The perennials, every single one we have planted every year, even some that haven’t blossomed before came out to show their color. Each one we planted are gorgeous are in full bloom. They each are a different color so it looks vibrant around our yard.  I picked different ones each year thinking maybe certain colors didn’t like me. I was getting superstitious and thought also maybe one color grows better than another?  The plant that looks like a weed with pretty purple flowers on it is growing like a huge weed now all over the place! My flowers I put in the pots on the porch usually look dead by now are still alive and new buds are coming out. You can see their blooms from the road out front!

If one of my neighbors is reading this and watering my plants and putting plant food in our stuff, wow, are you nice!!!!  Please don’t stop!  You will be killing my idea that a miracle is happening right in my own yard!    It is astounding I have not heard the braking sounds in front of our house, 
yet anyways. Someone must be looking at our front yard thinking wow, new neighbors live there!

You know, there have been some disappointments this year that have befallen me. Who doesn’t have that happen right? It is so easy to concentrate on what isn’t right, what was wrong in the past. But what really matters is not what was but what is now. And for me, an easy reality check is to look outside and instantly be reminded God wants me to know the world is still a beautiful place indeed! My yard, it’s beautiful. Just look at it, how in the world did that happen if it weren’t for God? Take time to look for your miracles starting today!

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