“There was a small girl of Leeds
Who planted what she thought were seeds,
These she watered each day
But I’m sorry to say,
They never came up, they were beads!”
- Louise Seymour Jones, Who Loves a Garden
Failure already? Four entire seed packets (2 eggplant and 2 peppers), planted March 4 and nothing to show. How is this fair? Then there’s the thunbergia and sacred lotus, planted a mere week ago, and still nothing. I soaked the thunbergia and lotus seeds overnight in water with a little inoculant added. I even drilled tiny holes in the lotus seeds: shaped like black marbles and let them soak overnight before planting. I did the same with some seeds of Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) a friend liberated from the specimen adjacent to the Huntington Garden mansion. I expect the big and/or thick shelled seeds will take more patience, but it’s still discouraging to see several trays of peat pots looking empty as the day they were planted.
My home-made potting mix was probably infected with damping off. Or despite being covered with a plastic shower curtain on cold nights, the warm-season seeds were probably scared to death of the cold. Or perhaps I planted beads. I might as well have for all I have to show.
I’m having more luck in the real garden, where mustard seed sprouts already fill a large pot. I’ve got sprouts in the herb garden, but won’t know what they are until they’re a bit more grown-up. I think one of my hop vines is sprouting, but it could be a purple hyacinth bean, put in the same place at the same time.
I make no pretense of having a green thumb. Just because I like to garden doesn’t mean I’m any good at it. I can’t cultivate lush tropicals because I’m just too negligent. Exotic flowers don’t survive my benign neglect. While I no longer murder plants that don’t belong in my Zone 9 yard, I tend to push the envelope, with the degree of success a 15year old with a learner's permit would have in trying to jump their car over 6 school buses. I don’t have tall shade trees beneath which I can plant understory forest plants of my childhood: violets and lilies of the valley. I tend to (un-humbly) blame my environment for my gardening failures, making me slower to learn the horticultural lessons I most need to master.
Enthusiasm takes a gardener only so far. Cultivating patience probably takes one a baby step farther down the garden path. After that, a certain amount of skill is required – or at least a minimum of horticultural knowledge, and humility in the face of Nature. I expect I’ve got more in common with the small girl of Leeds when it comes to gardening savvy than I do with a genuine gardener. Now that I think about it, those lotus seeds did look an awful lot like beads…