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Cannon: It's not always easy to reap what you sow

Published September 24, 2011 7:59 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I've decided that having a garden is a lot like being in a certain kind of relationship.

You know how it is with relationships: At first you're all, "I love you, I love you, I love you! Never leave me!"

Then time passes, and suddenly you're all, "What? You're still here?"

It's always the same. Every spring I am just mad crazy about my garden. I spend hours prepping the soil and trolling nurseries for plants. I set little goals for myself, too: This year, I tell myself, I'll fertilize and weed and deadhead faithfully like a constant lover. This year, my garden will be awesome!

And then I get so excited about my garden that I jump the gun and plant impatiens in April, which always makes the snow gods sit up and pay attention.

"Ha!" the snow gods say, "Impatiens in April? In Salt Lake City? We'll show her!"

And the next thing you know, there's a blizzard on Memorial Day, thereby causing my garden to look like a graveyard for baby plants that never really had a chance to grow up, go to school, backpack across Europe, find a job, develop a few rewarding hobbies, get married and have baby plants of their own.

But whatever. The point is that I am always chock full of gardening enthusiasm whenever March rolls around.

This time of year, though? Not so much.

Oh sure, I still weed. I still water. I still deadhead. But in the words of B.B. King, "the thrill is gone, baby," although (technically speaking) I don't think B.B King was talking to either his flowers or his tomato plants when he said that.

This time of year, in fact, there's a part of me that goes: OK, just stick a fork in me because I'm done. And I really, really wish my garden were done, too.

Some years this sentiment is especially pronounced. Like this year, for example. Who knows why I'm feeling this way? But there I was yesterday morning, surveying my garden from the front porch and thinking: "Hey! Living in a condo doesn't seem like such a bad idea!" Especially if there's an exercise room, a whirlpool AND NO GARDEN INVOLVED!

Then I remembered my grandmother.

Actually, it's more like my grandmother came barreling up my front porch steps at that very moment, armed with a shovel, a spade and a rake.

Not literally, of course. My grandmother has been dead for almost 20 years now. But the memory of her was suddenly so potent, I could almost feel the autumn air around me bristle with her energy. My mother's mother was just a scary force of nature — one of those old women who could work circles around hardy young men and everyone else who was stupid enough to get in her way.

Not long before my grandmother died, I stood in her backyard at summer's end and listened to her make plans about the garden she wanted to put in come spring. And it wasn't going to be just any garden. No. She wanted a perennial garden full of peonies, irises, daisies and a host of other worthy plants that, nonetheless, take a few years to hit their stride.

That's the kind of garden she looked forward to creating, even though she was 87 years old.

She believed in the future, that grandmother of mine, which is why she thought people should plant gardens.

I'm tired now, it's true. But come next spring I promise I won't disappoint her.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/columnistcannon.






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