Saturday, May 19, 2012

A "Little Things That Make Me Happy" Post

I took off some time from work yesterday and used it to get my garden planted.

It's not much of a garden.  All I have is a small balcony with some pots and window boxes.  The balcony looks down over the river, giving me a decent view of trees and water and wildlife (ducks, geese, swans, egrets, cormorants, and catfish) but it's not a very attractive space itself.  It's a concrete slab surrounded by metal railing.  It always could use some decoration.  I plant as much space as possible.  I like to use a variety of colorful flowers as well as my favorite cooking herbs.  On the floor I have pots of rosemary, thyme, sage, basil and mint.  In the boxes I have petunias, marigolds, and lobelia.

I think I love shopping for plants as much as I like planting them.  I love going to the nursery and making the rounds though the greenhouse.  I love being surrounded by the scents and colors of all of those flowers.  I like to browse through at a leisurely pace, checking out every flower that catches my eye, reading the information about it to see if it would be suitable for my balcony.  I make sure that I have good color coordination with blues, reds, purples, pinks, and yellows.  I'm often tempted to stray from the petunias, but I sometimes feel nervous about new flowers.  Will they work on my balcony or not?  I almost always stay with the petunias because I know they will survive and bloom and thrive all season.

Temptations are all around me for edibles as well.  Do I dare try one of those tomato cages again, knowing that my last two attempts yielded just a handful of tomatoes the entire season?  What if I replace my flowers with arugula? How long will that crop last?  I certainly know better than to attempt cilantro again. 

I spend a fair amount of time sniffing a few herbs, trying to see how much I like a new one.  In the end I stick to the classics.  My thyme, sage, and mint plants come back every year, but I always find myself buying basil and rosemary.  I've learned not to stray too far from plants I don't regularly use in cooking.   I learned my lesson after being seduced by the scent of apricot hyssop.

I wish my thumb were greener and I could be a "real" gardener and start my plants from seed.  I'm afraid my attempts at doing that with herbs in the past weren't successful.  I'll do the wimps way and stick to the nursery.

Once I'm home, it's time to get to work.  I have to weed the pots and boxes (yes, weeds do make their way up to the second floor) and remove all of the dead remains of last summer's plants.  I have to decide how I want to arrange the colors?  Red and purple?  Red and white?  Pink and white?  Red and pink?  Digging it all up and putting in the new plants is as close to real gardening as I get, but I still get enormous satisfaction from it.  Once everything is planted and my balcony is surrounded by color and scent, I always feel so peaceful.

I have a place where I can drink a glass of wine on a warm evening or serve a special sunset dinner or greet the sunrise at breakfast.  This little ugly space becomes my special little corner of the world.

Just another reason why I love summer!

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