Talking to the Roses


nest arrangementThis is the first bunch of rosemary I was able to cut from my potted rosemary plant. It struggled all summer and fall and then, suddenly, it was strong, robust, reaching upward, and in need of its first trim. I used a good deal of it for rosemary roasted vegetables and then a little in some cabbage and white bean soup (which was a mistake) and I have just enough left for some more roasted vegetables.

Today I’m thinking about what we can plant as a shared hedge between our driveway and the neighbor’s. The hedge that’s there right now is dying. I want an edible hedge that’s also beautiful. But one I can get the neighbor to agree to. Pomegranates are naturally small trees that can be kept pruned to hedge size easily. I’m dreaming of making pomegranate jelly every year. Or just juicing them and drinking the juice. The spring flowers are gorgeous and they aren’t picky about soil. All I have to do is convince the neighbor to pay to have the dead hedges removed (roots and all) and offer to pay for and care for the new hedge.

I’m still toying with two other possibilities: espaliered apple and pear trees and a blueberry hedge, each posing their own unique challenges.

I get panicky on Friday mornings now that I work four days a week. I feel so much pressure to get shit done. Not only the usual stuff around the house but chores connected to my fledgling apothecary business. Today I drank coffee, chatted with online friends, my mother, made breakfast, yelled at Twitter for constantly clogging my feed with sexual content that I find so tiresome and annoying. This led to two fun non-sex-related chats with different writer friends. One was about pizza and one was about gardening. Within 20 minutes I forgot all about everyone’s irritating obsession with the sex they’re having or wish they were having and realized that what I really need is to prune some of my roses.

I have pruned 5 of them so far. Most of them are spindly little roses that have yet to become deeply rooted. They’re just settling in from being planted late last spring. I hate pruning the little ones because every little cut feels like murder. The roses with the lush thick healthy canes are so much easier to prune. You can hear them sighing with relief as the weak limbs are removed, the dead leaves sough off, and you tell them how wonderful and hearty they are.

I’m writing this as I take a quick break from the warmth outside. It’s too warm for me today but I need to get back out there a little bit more. Next I’m going to the back yard. We have three roses back there that have valiantly held onto life in the darkest oak shade¬† for years before they were transplanted last year. It’s time they got the prune they need to thrive.

School is just getting out. I can hear the messy hum of middle school kids a half a block away. Max is walking home from the high school right now, any moment he’ll walk in the door and dump his backpack at the base of the stairs. I’ll shout greetings at him which he’ll barely acknowledge. Then he’ll disappear upstairs for the rest of the afternoon. Unless things at school were bad, then he’ll lay down on the couch in the living room and make feeble noises at me.

Being in the garden often has the effect of heightening my sense of right now in a pleasant way. It’s calming. Why do I forget this for such long stretches of time, that being in the garden is like a tranquilizer for me? I wonder if it was the years in Oregon where I was fighting with my yard so often? Where being outside somehow made my isolation in my community feel greater. (Probably because of the eerie silence of the neighborhoods I lived in.) Here on Cherry street there are always people walking by, people chatting, dogs saying hello, children playing, the school kids yelling and laughing, and neighbors coming and going. It’s so alive here in a way that when I’m outside I feel more peace rather than less. I belong here. In this community. Being outside in my garden feels calm but also energizing.

There are also sometimes loud drunks that walk by, but that’s just part of the city flavor I love so much.

I used to long for bigger garden spaces, for sizable property. I had big yards in Oregon. The potential of it was exciting but the reality of it wasn’t right for me. I don’t have tons of space in my current garden but it feels like the right amount. Every inch counts. I can tackle it in small -


I never made it back outside. Max came home and wanted to hang out, so we did. I’ll get back outside to the roses tomorrow. This was a good day!