My mom and dad had the green thumb. In fact, they had green fingers and hands too! Our little home had citrus trees and flowers. Dad planted a garden each season and his vegetables were famous for their size and taste. Mom took great care in the front flower beds to have attractive roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises. Her flowers were always a beautiful setting for Mom’s statues of our Blessed Mother, other saints and Jesus. While growing up, I watched these plants become fertile and produce year after year; not realizing the care and work involved in maintaining a garden. I never fully appreciated the fruits of my parents’ labor or their hard work and patience with nature.
I married a wonderful man. He is a great husband and spiritual leader of the family. He is not a gardener. And lo and behold, I did not receive the green thumb gene! In the early days of our marriage, my attempts at keeping a house plant alive were indeed a challenge! I tried a few times, and after a few failures, I decided, “who needs plants anyway?”.
So, we bought vegetables at the market. Sometimes we were given some by my dad, who maintained a garden into his seventies. If I wanted flowers, I bought them at market. I told myself they were even prettier than if I had grown them myself. All was well in my non-green world…until six years ago.
Six years ago, my children were grown and on their own. We had two grandchildren and my husband and I decided to make the move from our home town to Youngsville, Louisiana to be closer to our family. It was our first time living in a neighborhood with a HOA. There are rules requiring flower beds. We did not panic… our flower beds have azaleas and other perennials that require minimum maintenance. Our backyard is fenced in and private with trees and a pasture in the rear. As I sat on my back patio during my first year in the new home, a thought popped into my head that I really needed a fig tree. My favorite fruit has always been figs. I grew up with them in the back yard and so the tree also held some fond memories of being young and carefree.
I expressed my desire to plant a fig tree to my husband. His words said, “sure, we will get one.”, but his eyes said, “what are you thinking?”. Each year since, during planting season, I would remind my husband that we had agreed to plant a fig tree in the back yard. Each year his words said, “yes we will”, while I saw in his face that planting anything went against all his beliefs and convictions. It was enough to have to mow, trim and weed the darn flower beds that we are forced to maintain, I am sure was going through his mind. Each spring we sat on the back patio and enjoyed the quiet, the birds, the breeze, but not a flower or fruit in sight, until Mother’s Day a couple of years ago.
On a beautiful mother’s day, my son and daughter-in-law showed up at my home with a gardenia as my present. I knew nothing about gardenias. My son’s beautiful wife had a grandfather who was a rose expert, and she has inherited her family’s love and skill of horticulture. I felt enormous pressure as I imagined planting this lovely gardenia in my back yard only to see it wither away as had all my other attempts at gardening. The Plant Lady, I am not! It was such a lovely gift and my son married such a lovely woman, that I had to plant that gardenia and it just had to live and bloom! I did not want to let her down! I did my research. I spent the next day reading all about gardenias and their needs. I spent the next few days looking for the perfect spot in my yard that was not too sunny and not too shady. The following weekend, my husband and I got the very clean shovel out of the garage, dug a hole and planted the flowering bush. We watered it and we were both pleasantly surprised when we felt quite accomplished. We were rooting for the little fellow to make it!
Summer months came, (extremely hot in southern Louisiana), and we took turns watering our little gardenia. Winter came and the gardenia was still alive. Snow actually fell that winter, (a very small amount), and we feared that it would not survive. Our fears gave away to excitement as early spring found little blossoms on our gardenia. I took pictures of them like they were our children! These delicate white blossoms were the fruits of our love and care. Once again, I reminded my husband that we had not planted our fig tree. Once again I was told that we would get that tree real soon….
Fast forward to today. This morning I walked out into the back yard with our dog, Oscar, and was thrilled to see our little gardenia full of blossoms. The yard smelled heavenly! It brought such a smile to my face and heart! I gathered a few flowers and set them in a vase so that my home would be filled with their sweet fragrance. My husband walked into the room; I showed him my bouquet and boldly proclaimed, “today, we are getting that fig tree!”. My joy at that moment wore down his years of hesitation. Lo and behold, this afternoon we drove up to our house with a fig tree! And not just any fig tree, it is a LSU Purple Fig Tree! (Big LSU fans here) Tomorrow we plant the fig tree. I cannot wait to see what it will produce.
I am starting to get into this plant stuff. I think I will make a Mary garden around the little gardenia. Perhaps some roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises. My poor husband!