That is, a terribly neglected garden.
I suppose before going any further I have to admit that somehow I never got around to the fall cleanup of my garden beds. The typical stuff that respectable gardeners do automatically after their last satisfying harvest. Cut down spent plants, mulch, tuck everything away for a neat and tidy winter so it will be composted, fresh and ready again in the springtime.
All I can say is that I was in denial when fall came. We never really got summer around here. I was like a little kid who can't keep my eyes open or my head up but fights to the bloody end to avoid going to bed. No, I'm not tired! I'm not finished yet! My 11 tomato plants are taller than me and I've only harvested 3 ripe fruits! 3! It's not over, it's not! It's not! Noooooooo!
Kicking and screaming and refusing to accept it, fall and winter happened anyway. They always do. I normally enjoy working in the yard in the wintertime, even in the cold rain I'll be out there planting bulbs or doing whatever needs to be done, muddy and soggy and happy. But not this winter. The disappointment that was The Summer That Never Camewas still too fresh. I really seemed to take it personally and I simply couldn't deal with it. So I put on my clutter-blinders and vowed to get out and do some early spring cleanup when I was feeling a smidge less bitter about big, dumb winter.
Alright, the beds are still quite sad looking. I know, it's March. And my first early plant sale is in a couple weeks. But I returned home a few days ago after a week and a half away, and saw something interesting.
I had been noticing something leafing out the last month or so, maybe an old cabbage or something, I hadn't really focused on it before. But as I hurried past to get back into the warm house the other day, there it was, practically glowing.
I'd planted a couple varieties of cauliflower and broccoli early last year and was pretty excited about them. Nothing seemed to be happening until tiny buds appeared the week before I went to New York for Surtex. By the time I returned from the show, they had all bolted and gone to seed (must have been that one day of sunshine we had in May) along with all my other early-season greens. Sad, tall, weird Seussian flowers, all of them.
I'm not sure when this one decided to sprout back up again. I wasn't paying attention. But it was a smart one, growing so vigorously while all the slugs and bugs and little green worms are asleep under their rocks. The flawless, perfectly-intact leaves span a couple feet wide. Even after a long warm saltwater soak, not a single tiny critter floated out of this.
This funny little flower the size of my fist fills me with that pre-season hope that this will be the year. The year that the sun shines, that things grow and thrive. I will sprout, plant, and nurture - relying on faith and hard work. Spring is coming soon, the season of new growth, rebirth, and hope.
Nice to be reminded that even in a neglected garden, we can find unexpected gifts.