The Tiny Garden

Erin Britt essays

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I position my stool in front of the freshly plowed dirt. A flat of begonias sits at my feet. This is unfamiliar territory for me. I am not a gardener.

My mom has always had beautiful flower gardens, but growing up I never had an interest in helping or learning how to cultivate plants. I just always assumed it was too much work or a skill I didn’t have. Or something someone else would do.

Even in my own adult, grown-up home, my husband has always taken care of the yard and landscaping. I have never even mowed the lawn.

But about two springs ago, he was complaining about all the time it took to plant annuals and clean up the yard and was considering not doing any of it.

I’ll let you in on a secret: our yard is often the envy of the neighborhood. We have these huge pots that I once told Hubby were too big for the front of our house. But he creates miracles in them. A pot full of wispy grasses, hanging leaves, and beautiful flowers that marry together flawlessly. People walking dogs or driving by in cars will stop in front of our house and compliment us for such lovely pots.

And silly me, I swell with pride as if I had anything to do with them.

So when Hubby said he wasn’t going to spend much time on the flowers, I protested. “Everyone expects our pots to be beautiful. They will wonder if we are ill if we don’t plant the pots.”

He subtly suggested that perhaps I should help then. So I did. I pulled on gardening gloves and dug shallow holes and set delicate begonias in the places he pointed out to me until I ‘heard the baby crying’ and had to go inside. When actually, I was getting grossed out by all the fat, wiggling worms I was seeing.

But last year, I helped him plant again. And this year, he sat me in the front yard, gave me several flats of begonias and a garden trowel, and told me to have at it.

“Well, where should I place them?” I clearly needed more direction than he was giving me.

“Anywhere. You can’t over plant these. Just fill in the dirt I turned over.”

So, I dig my hands in the dirt. My freshly manicured, ungloved hands break up espresso-colored clumps of mud, turning over fat segmented creatures. I am becoming a pro at this. Dig a hole, drop in a dainty begonia, pack dirt around it. Repeat with some “help” from the baby who is two now.

Over and over, dig, plant, pack, repeat, listen to the birds chirping above me and the sound of cars passing behind me. I feel wonderful accomplishing something that I know is going to last the summer and be enjoyed by many.

“They look great!” Hubby remarks as he rounds the corner from the back yard. I take a picture of my tiny flower garden, and wonder how they will look in a month at the peak of summer.

I haven’t been proud of something new in a long time, and this feels good. I’m excited to see them grow and anxious to cultivate this new passion of mine.

Read more from Kathy on Mamalode!


About the Author

Erin Britt

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