This is a sketch I made this winter, sitting in a thoroughly boring class, daydreaming of gardens and color and sunlight, doodling on scrap paper instead of taking notes. I planted the lavender (which is much more lush and flourishing than this somewhat scanty sketch) last year, and was playing with ideas for extending the garden along the low, crumbling concrete wall that lines the back yard. I wanted hollyhocks and asters, cosmos and zinnias. The added flower beds wouldn’t be the small things illustrated here, but long swaths overflowing with bloom. It was ambitious, but I was starved for flowers, so I didn’t care.

This past weekend I made this a reality. Months ago Liv had started aster and cosmo seedlings for me, but that was just the beginning. First they needed someplace to go. That was easier said than done. It was most of an afternoon’s work to carve the beds out of the lawn, standing on the shovel to force it down through our dense, clay soil. Then the beds were double dug, with bone meal, dried blood, and a little sand to improve the drainage. After that I could finally set out the seedlings, some beginning to get root bound in their cells. The hollyhock seeds were planted first, then dwarf zinnias in front of the cosmos, and lilliput zinnias at the end of the bed. On the other side of the lavender I planted Chinese forget-me-not, money plant or innocence in between the asters, white eyed susan vine (a vine with white, daisy-like flowers with black centers) to grow up over the wall, and snapdragons at the end of the bed. Already the hollyhocks have started to come up, the asters and cosmos are doing well, and some of the cosmos have even begun to bloom. It will take about a month for things to really get started, but it already just looking at the beds fills me with such satisfaction.

It’s also satisfying to feel how much good working out in the garden is doing me. This weekend was the third time I’ve done a marathon gardening day. Always before I came away with excruciatingly aching muscles, blisters on my hands (particularly where the ring I always wear rubs against the base of my right pointer finger), and more often than not, sunburn. This time I was sore, but at an ok level, didn’t have any blisters, and only got sunburned on one small patch of my back where the spray-on sunscreen somehow didn’t reach. I was exhausted at the end of the day, but it was the good kind of exhaustion. Little by little, I’m toughening up.

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