My first apartment was two doors down from my parents'. My stepdad was my landlord. He had a private counseling practice in the house. I lived underneath.
The price was right (just $400 a month) and the location was more than amazing. I had two and a half acres of backyard that went to the Fox River. A forest to the right of me, and one neighbor on the left. It was quiet. But still close enough to my mom if I needed anything.
I decided to spruce up the area by the main door to my apartment. I worked for a builder and they were changing out the faux flowers for the season. They were going to throw the flowers away so I fished them out of the trash and took them home. I planted the faux flowers. They were daffodils and tulips. I thought they looked nice. I knew nothing about flowers or gardening.
I am certain my mom was horrified by the plastic flowers. I can still hear the tone of her voice in my head when she called me and gave me her reaction. "Jennifer, they aren't even the right season. It's the fall. Those are spring flowers." I think of this conversation and it makes me laugh at all I did not know. How tacky my planting efforts had been, despite my good intention. (Insert smile).
Every Mother's Day growing up, my mom spent the day in the front yard. She planted impatients (usually red and white) underneath the front bushes. That was her preferred choice in how to spend the day. I didn't get it. I couldn't understand why she would chose to labor and work on a day she could just sit and relax. But the flowers looked beautiful each year.
When I bought my house, there was an area in front that was a perfect flower bed. I decided to dabble in planting flowers. Impatients seemed to be the logical choice. I knew what they looked like. I knew how to water them. I remember buying my first flat thinking, "wow these are so expensive!" I didn't realize the price was for a 6 pack of cells and not each individual cell. I learned as I went. I was a complete novice.
By the next year, I added some hanging baskets of impatients in the front of the house. And a small vegetable garden in planter boxes out back. The year after, I learned what petunias were and added a few.
By year nine, I felt much more versed. I had expanded the garden out by the sidewalk. We had daffodils, tulips, day lilies. I would add pansies, petunias and impatients. I felt it was still a pretty standard line-up of flowers, but a far cry from my plastic planting days.
In the winter, I would think of the flower bulbs sleeping under the snow. I would peek at the soil each day in the spring, waiting to see the first sign of sprouting. The time spent in beautifying the house was therapeutic. I loved watching the day lilies’ flowers begin to bloom in June. I loved driving up to the house and seeing all the beautiful colors.
There is a house on the corner of Orange and Main in Yorkville. The yard is absolutely incredible. I drive by the house slowly and admire all of the hard work that someone very carefully took to beautify their yard. The tulips and daffodils are overwhelmingly amazing. The hostas and gardens are stunning. It's so well cared for. I just love that.
When we moved into our current house, I was warned that it was hard to grow anything because the soil PH was acidic. Walnut trees were on the property, causing the acidity. Our location is also very shady. I saw the warning as a challenge; I was ready to give it a whirl. I've planted hostas, day lilies, tulips and daffodils. I have a row of impatients (of course) and a huge iris bunch. I've also heard that churning gypsom in the soil will balance the soil PH.I have pansies and petunias in pots and hanging baskets. All seem to be thriving and doing well.
The hostas are from my old house. The day lilies are from my Goddaughter's mother, the iris bunch is from my mom. I like that parts of my past have come together in one place, in my yard. Bringing the old in with the new: symbolism and beauty.
As Mother's Day approaches, I get it now. I understand why mom spent the day in the garden. I hope to garden that day. No more plastic flowers for this girl. I love the nurturing. The beautifying. I love knowing that I improved my little corner of the world. I'm still learning and growing, too.