The Dirty Fingernails of Life

I walked into Whole Foods at Avalon because only Whole Foods has a smoked salmon dip and a Provencal Rose wine and a good baguette.  For later.

I started to pick up an apple to inspect it when I was diverted to an inspection of my own hand.  Fingernails:  dirt under my nails.  Hands:  dried smudges of red clay.  I figured I better go to the ladies room to wash up.  But the mirror revealed more calamities.  Face:  dirt above my eyebrow and on my cheek.  Mascara:  it didn’t matter.  Shirt: smudges, specks.  Not clean.  I forgot.  A typical day for me doesn’t typically match the clientele at Whole Foods.  This is because the dirt is my profession.  I horticulture.  I garden.  I do it for a living.  But I also do it for peace and pleasure.

Why?  What drives people to the garden?  Why suffer the hot weather?  The cold weather?  Why suffer the insect bites?  The dirt?  The dirty clothes?  The dirt under the fingernails?

I looked at my own garden at home to try to answer these questions.  I do not have a million dollar mansion with hired help to tend it.  If I was a quadrillionaire, I doubt I would have as much.  I can do it.  Thank you very much.

My own scraggly garden is not much to look at from a distance, but up close.  Up close!  My garden is more than the sum of its’ parts.

My own garden has the miracle of the oak leaf Hydrangea that won’t die despite repeated attempts from the dogs to chew into a million pieces.  IMG_6735

It is the perfectly full yellow rose that looks so perfect despite all the leaves surrounding it with black spot.IMG_6721

It is the thornless Zepherine Drouhin rose.  It is the transplanted shrub that hangs on to life.  My own garden is the will to live.  This is it.  Gardening is witnessing life.  We help it along.  We coddle it and baby it.  But, the life is not from us.  This is so amazing.  IMG_6729

Sometimes I see a plant that should have died a long time ago (so, we think!  so, we say!) and I say out loud, “It wants to live, this plant.  It wants to live”.  The garden mimics our lives.  IMG_6727

We who tend gardens have this affinity with witnessing life and tinkering with life.  We want to be part of the process.  Germination.  Planting.  Watering.  Photosynthesizing.  Growing.  Harvesting.  And yet, so much of it is not of us.  We are only there to witness,  even if that means dirty fingernails.


6 Replies to “The Dirty Fingernails of Life”

    1. The plant you refer to is actually not a Hosta at all, but is Agave victoriae-reginae. It is an American southwest plant growing in my zone 7b. Thank you for your comment!

      1. Wow – I never would have thought a succulent would thrive here. Must try a couple. Thanks for the info!

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