green-thumb Grams

My Grams is obsessed with plants. Now, I’m not just talking about loving roses and greens. No. Think bigger. Her basement and living room were filled with jungles of pots and plants-all sizes, colors, and smells imaginable. Every spring/summer when I was little Grams would pose me in front of every flower bed she had and told me to “smile” as she took at least 15 pictures [of each flower bed]–and in most cases she’d end up cutting me almost completely out of the picture so she could get a better picture of her flowers. Grams loves flowers.

I learned a lot about those funny plants from Grams. There are so many types of flowers that go into a garden–and so many different ways they come to enter the dirt: there’s seeds-little tiny specs that somehow always grow enormously tall, seedlings-little things that look pathetic when you take them out of their store-bought plastic potters and put them in the dirt, then my grandma would always bring out big pots from inside-filled with plants that she’d kept in her house during the winter, and of course, there was always one section in her garden that remains almost untouched. She never plants anything in that spot–those plants just seem to pop on their own year after year-because Grams always seems to leave a space for them.

One time Grams was explaining to me why she plants certain flowers the way she does: seeds, seedlings, or from pots. She said the flowers that she grows from seeds are hearty and strong-they can shoot up quickly and survive the surprises of spring weather. The seedlings seem to need a little boost before they get planted into the ground. Their roots need to incubate so they don’t get squished out by other plants or eaten by the rabbits. And those potted plants? They just needed some time to heal, needed to be cared for. Some of those potted plants were eaten by rabbits or burned from the sun last year, so Grams dug them up and put them in a pot and took them inside to take care of them until they grew enough to be planted outside in the spring.

I always thought “God uses cracked pots”…but maybe there’s room for broken plants? There appears to be an interesting tension between the hands of the gardener and the plant. The hands must be gentle enough to touch the leaves and petals, but firm enough to pack in the ground underneath it. Gentle enough to water, strong enough to pull up the weeds. Gentle enough to allow nature to enter into this dance of growth and life. Strong enough to dig up and uproot the plant, put it in a pot, and take it inside for awhile.

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