My Roses are Red, my Salvia is blue. No one is more surprised I won the Parkland Garden contest than guess who??
By Mindi Rudan
s strangely private as I am (some will find that so hard to believe), when the City of Parkland sent word that they were looking for entries into their first ever garden contest, the farmer-in-the-dell in me took over. (SHE’s one of my many Sybil-like personas!) And before I knew it, I had filled out the form, answered the garden qualification questions and hit: SEND!
When they answered they were coming to judge, I had butterflies in my stomach to go with the host of butterflies swarming my gardens. I think I was more nervous than when I got married! Days before the judging, I was in that garden like 10-12 hours each day, pinching, trimming and edging. Hank said it was like I was up for a part in a major motion picture! Yes, Mr. Hanky De Mille, I want my close-up, NOW!
When they came I was afraid I rambled like I was on something. This garden has taken me four years to create and is still a work in progress. It’s taken me 20+ years in Florida just to understand that I needed to forget everything I had learned about gardening back in New Jersey and re-work the green-thumb thing for the SoFla land of three seasons: Hot, Hotter and HURRICANE IS COMING!! (Extra bonus points for understanding that in winter we can get a cold-spell and then all the tender perennials and tropicals need to be taken in or COVERED!)
I use my garden as therapy, as respite, to entertain and to work off the craziness of what this economy has done to all of us. The garden, is the ONLY place I feel I have any control over anything anymore. I dig a hole; fill it with the right “recipe” for that plant’s needs, lower the plant, water and stand back. Luckily, most times the rewards are huge, but sometimes God shows me, “Nope, you don’t got no control here either. You gotta just have faith, and the willingness to accept the things you cannot change.” Gardening offers me the release AND the LIFE lessons of doing your best, and that being good enough. (See Dr. Amy’s column page 71 on being a good enough mother, it’s great!) It’s the understanding that even when you do your utmost best, sometimes, things just turn out differently than you’d hoped and you have to be as gracious and as accepting of the losses as you are of the wins. In the garden that may be as simple as moving a plant from a place it’s struggling to another place it can thrive. I’ve learned a lot about LIFE from playing in the dirt.
Gardening brought me closer to my mother. Her love of the earth and making things grow was instilled in me at birth, maybe even the womb. She loved getting her hands dirty, growing her own flowers, her own vegetables and nurturing the sick plants back to vibrancy. Sometimes in the depths of my penchant for overanalization, I think because my mother began life so sickly, and struggled so to be well, she felt for the under-dog in every situation, even the garden. Plants people thought were goners and were about to be trashed; mom took home and made them virtually unrecognizable they became so healthy.
She composted before it was trendy burying her tea bags, Dad’s coffee grounds and vegetable peelings right into her flower beds. I do that stuff today, because of her. I make myself insane digging up “volunteer” plants and potting them rather than seeing them mowed over by the lawn "guys."
Sometimes my garden looks like an infirmary! So many baby plants. But it’s unimaginable how much pleasure it gives me. I trade these baby plants with friends, gardening buddies and give them away to anyone who admires one. I got that from her too. She knew what sharing felt like. Anyone who’d even remark about how pretty a plant was, a few weeks later got one left on their doorstep, from my caring, loving, so generous mom who would be gaga-proud of her kid winning of all things, a gardening contest!