The Single Senior Gardens, Her Way

The Single Senior Gardens, Her Way

My neighbor Donna is quite the gardener. She loves to get her hands in the dirt. Everything she plants grows ecstatically. Those measly plants from the ninety-nine cent store become gorgeous roses, multiplying chrysanthemums and six foot-tall shrubs. When she is a little down, she goes to the plant store and buys some happiness. I have had limited success with gardens.

My father, although born and bred in New York City, took to gardening when we moved to suburban New Jersey. He planted corn, asparagus, and cucumbers, but his pride was with his tomatoes.

My biggest triumph was when I worked at a school and the science teacher gave me some seeds for Mediterranean squash. I planted them at the edge of the concrete in the postage-sized patio of my townhouse. The vines grew so well they went over the six foot wooden fence. They grew even more and I twined them back into onto the concrete. The squash were green monsters, almost as big as watermelons. There were so many that I couldn’t give enough away, taking them to school and leaving bags of squash in the teachers’ lounge. My friend Carol, also known as the western Martha Stewart, helped me make pickles and zucchini bread to save my crop from waste.

When my daughter Emily was about five, we planted a winter garden:  lettuce, radishes, etc. We had less than a bumper crop.

Since then I haven’t done much gardening. I buy plants in pots and try to keep them alive. I forget to water them, a sin in the desert, whether it’s summer or winter. I’ve been more successful at remembering to water when I bring the plants to my mountain cabin. Two years ago, when the Black- Eyed Susans blooming on the roadside, I waited for a good rain and pulled some up by the roots. I transplanted them by my driveway, and most survived. I figured they were weeds, and they would come up every year. Last year, when the Black- Eyed Susans bloomed, they were in my neighbor’s yard. I tried again. Who knows which way the wind was blowing last fall.

Another Scottsdale neighbor bought a place in Munds Park. She discovered a gorgeous nursery, Warner’s, in Flagstaff. When I went there I was enchanted. Literally. I picked out sixty dollars of flowers and herbs. I decided to plant them in the ground. I knew the soil by the driveway had supported the Black- Eyed Susans, so I decided to plant there. I rooted around in my storage shed and found work gloves from the dollar store and a three-pronged clawed tool I figured could substitute for a shovel.

The next morning I soaked the ground to make it easier to dig. I didn’t like kneeling in the dirt. My sweat pants got encrusted with mud. Didn’t I used to love to squish my toes in the mud when I was a kid? Guess I’ve outgrown that.

The digging was hard work. I liked it when I saw a worm. I knew that worms irrigate the soil for flowers. It only took about an hour to do the planting. I was anxious to finish, so some of the soil from the pots were two or three inches above the ground.

I have to soak those suckers every day! It hasn’t rained here in more than a month and the humidity level is in the single digits. The flowers were in shock for a week. The parsley looked dead. One of the plants has leaves that haven’t left the ground yet. I want the end result. I don’t enjoy the process, except picking out the plants.

Finally, this week, some of the flowers bloomed. And the middle of the parsley stood up. The plants don’t seem to have grown at all, but they’re not dead. I hope there’s room for the Black- Eyed Susans if they decide to sprout this year.





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