As soon as the fist-sized, orange blossom revealed its beautiful face and reached towards the late-Spring sky, I knew I had made it.
I was a gardener.
I yanked my smart phone out of my pocket, dropped to one knee in the moist soil, and took one photo after another of my flower. Selecting the perfect shot, I played with Instagram filters until it was perfect. Vibrant. Stunning. Unbelievable.
Then I did what any millennial would-be-gardener might do. I posted the perfect shot of my perfect flower on my Facebook page. My description was cute and inspiring: “Gardening with children. My kids are thrilled to see their plant bloom and can’t wait to try the fruits—well, vegetables—of their labor.”
Bring on the comments.
I basked in the glow of digital praise.
For a moment.
“Uh … ” A friend responded, “I don’t know what kind of blossom that is, but I am pretty sure eggplant flowers are purple.”
What? I quickly Googled pictures of eggplant flowers. They were all small and purple, nothing like the orange behemoth residing in my vegetable patch.
What on earth? My children—Alexandria, Ethan, Derek, and Bella—and I had purchased these sprouts and seeds earlier in the Spring. We’d read the accompanying instructions and made sure that each choice loved full sun and our harsh Florida climate. We had set their name tags or packets next to them in the soil, proudly proclaiming the plants’ identities. We watched our sprouts peep their tiny green heads up from the soil and witnessed our babies blossom into thriving vines. Every day brought new surprises.
I plucked the mystery plant’s wooden marker from the soil and scrutinized it: “Black Beauty Eggplant.” Hmmm … had the plant been mislabeled at the nursery? Unlikely, right? Then what was this large, vining creature spreading over my garden, loaded with flowers and tiny, ball-shaped growths?
Then I noticed my bush beans boasted the label, “Zucchini.”
The snow peas climbing merrily up their red trellis were labeled “Tomato.”
Carrots? Evidently they were now cucumbers.
One marker had been turned around and the word “WATERMELON” scribbled across its face in large, childish print.
Bella, my youngest, joined me. “Did you see my organizing, Mama?” she asked sweetly. “I fixed it. The names were always the same, so I made them new. Now it’s so pretty!” Her blue eyes shone.
I bit my tongue and pulled her little body close for a hug.
Oh, well. A rose by any other name smells as sweet. And a Kabocha squash (I finally figured out that’s what it was) that’s labeled “Eggplant” tastes as good.
And the misplaced eggplant? A few days later, purple flowers began blooming amid the tomatoes’ leaves and vines.
Mystery solved. ❖
This article was published originally in 2023, in GreenPrints Issue #133.