gardening, writing & creative cycling

Sep 4, 2010 | @ home

My garden has waxed and waned over the years. I picked up my gardening bug from my father, who has an incredible garden in San Diego. I remember moving into the house, where my parents still live, when I was 12 or 13.

Their lot is pie-shaped with most of the land on a steep hillside. When we moved in, the topsoil was scraped. Brush covered the slope.

My sister and I would take a piece of cardboard, carry it to the top and slide down the hill  navigating between the bushes. We’d leave a swath of hard packed dirt behind.

Week by week, plant by plant, my father patiently created an incredible garden over decades, mostly comprised of fruits and vegetables, fertilized purely with kitchen compost.

Although it too has waxed and waned, today the garden is in full glory.  The slope is terraced. Fruit-laden avocado trees, sapote, guava, lemon and calamansi trees (small, sour citrus used in Filipino cooking) now shade the hillside. Succulents cover the rest of the slope to prevent erosion.

Tomatoes, snowpeas, squash, bittermelon vines trellised to conserve space.

My mother unearthed a love of orchids after retirement, so hundreds of orchids hang from above, edging the entire cement patio and fence line.

My own garden is modest these days. Lack of attention has worn away the pristine edges of my flower beds. Thistles grow in the center of the strawberry patch and gopher mounds erupted in our once thriving asparagus bed.

I’m beginning to pay attention and tending to the details again after a hiatus from gardening last year. I’m finding my way back. It helps I can step outside and snack on young green beans and cherry tomatoes.

This morning I weeded our sparse vegetable beds, and deadheaded the dahlias. Our cool summer allowed my kale and trumpetflowers to thrive. At night, the trumpetflowers scent the air.

Next year, I think, the garden will look fantastic. And what I’m doing today counts.

Like my father, I’m doing it plant by plant, day by day. I don’t really expect that next year will be that different, but it’s good to have goals.

Creativity is like this for me. Sometimes I’m on fire, sometimes there are bad days, and sometimes I need to let go, rest and percolate for awhile…sometimes a long while.

I’m looking toward the horizon, a long-term view. I want it to be sustainable. Friendly to me. Not to anyone else. Just me. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.

There was a time in the not-to-distant past that I was completely tapped out creatively. I’m finding my way back to gardening and writing.

And it feels good.