A Growing Gardener

I’m trying. Really I am.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEFF CROSBY

It was my intention to take the bottles to the redemption center, meet my friends Laura and Lauren for lunch, and then come home. It took me ten hours. You see, my friends are gardeners—good ones—paid to be ones, actually. They are certified professionals, and they work in the field in which they excel: the field. They grow fruits and vegetables. They educate the public. They save heirloom variety seeds and, therefore, future gardens and gardeners. They are smart gardeners.

I needed cucumbers because my plants died. (I am obviously not a professional. I recently found out I don’t even know how to hill potatoes correctly.) So when they invited me to go with them for the afternoon, I accepted. I sat in the back seat, listening to them talk about their work, leaning forward and allowing any tidbit of valuable information that wafted back toward me to fully envelop and educate me, like a thirsty flower leans toward a drop of rain.

There was stuff growing everywhere—acres and acres—on purpose!

I have no idea where we went as we hopscotched across western Maine, but we visited some of the state’s finest greenhouses, farms, and gardens. Laura and Lauren know exactly where these places are because they are gardeners au courant.

One of the greenhouses was on a hill with a fantastic view of the mountains. If anything can turn my gaze from flowers, that is it. In awe, I blurted out to the proprietor, “Have you seen this view?” He looked at me like I was a (well-hilled) potato head.

Another greenhouse/garden was devoted to a seed saver program. While my friend Lauren spoke with the farmer (technically a curator of seeds), I wandered from plant to plant like an insect, continually asking, “What is that? What is that?” There was stuff growing everywhere—acres and acres—on purpose!

He, Lauren, and Laura talked the talk of highly educated growers, stopping at a bed to discuss varieties, then going over to a field to talk about techniques. They do that because they are dedicated gardeners. I followed behind, daydreaming.

As the end of our visit neared, the farmer made wooden markers for the plants that were to go with Lauren. I asked if I could help. He handed me some cedar plant markers and said, “You are ornamental.” He then trotted up to the house for a pen.

I turned to my companions. “What do you suppose he meant?”

Lauren said, “Maybe he thinks you’re pretty.”

I scoffed. “I doubt that! More likely he thinks I’m useless.”

Laura laughed. “Perhaps he thinks you’re pretty useless.”

I didn’t mind, I can take a little teasing. After all, I’m just a growing gardener—I’m learning more and more and happy to do so.

Anyway, after ten hours, I made it home and was ready to plant my new cucumber plants.

Hold on. Do they grow in hills?


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