This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 14, 2016

A man who likes to garden

I like my garden. I feel better around plants, around trees, around foliage, around flowers. I spend a lot of time in my backyard, and when I visit places I go sit outside.

As I ease into the age where "everyone is about the same age" - from 50 to 100, it seems very natural for me. Gardening is a gentle thing to do, it's not hang-gliding, or motorcycle racing (neither of which I ever did!). I've been gardening since I was about 23.

For me, it started when I moved into a little converted garage in Tempe, where I lived for two years while I went to ASU. And I really don't know why, but it bothered me that everything around me was either dead, or weeds out of control. So I started puttering around. I got permission from my landlord to turn on the irrigation system, I bought a lawnmower at a garage sale. And I transformed the place.

My basic education of how to grow things came from, believe it or not, an article in "High Times" (I have no idea why I had that, I've never used drugs). And it was just the basics on how plants grow. And uh, I guess I don't have to tell you what kind of plants interested most young people! I started with chinaberry trees (growing them, not smoking them, come on now!). I had an elderly neighbor who showed me that you needed to soak the seeds in water, and then plant them. Chinaberry trees grow like weeds, so it was pretty easy. I had a little area next to my apartment/garage building, and I experimented there. There were a lot of people who wondered what I was growing, as you would imagine! A young man just having an interest in plants seemed so very strange!

The next thing I did was collect cactuses, which I found grew very easily if you just stuck it in the ground. I would walk along the railroad tracks with my neighbor's dogs, and if I saw a piece of cactus lying there, I would veeeerryyyyy carefully pick it up, and bring it home. Of course, the cactuses, and the chinaberry trees started to grow very quickly, so I got rid of them. When I left that place I had turned a pretty rough-looking area into an oasis, with trimmed grass, some small trees, that sort of thing. My neighbor had caught in the spirit and helped me, especially with the mowing.

Nowadays I'm just another old guy puttering around in his garden, and I hope to be doing it for many more years. I do feel the need to apologize for it, though, because it was never something that seemed to be a natural thing for a young man to do (and I still feel young!).

I'm a man who likes to garden.

Image at the top of this post: Portulaca (moss ross) beginning to bloom today.
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