Neighbor Amy called yesterday, asking if I still had the mint plants she remembered growing between our porch and the third bedroom. Those plants threatened to take over last year, and Amy knew I wanted to limit them severely. We removed only two big clumps, so there was plenty for her and her granddaughter to pick. Amy Elizabeth, the granddaughter, wanted to flavor something she was cooking. I was thrilled for the leaves to be used and a little embarrassed that Amy knew they were not my favorite. As we stood in the garden, she waved her hand and said most of the plants came from her house. I knew the story without being told. Amy, generous person that she is, shared her bounty with Pat, the former owner of our house. We inherited an established garden that I find difficult to maintain because of sheer ignorance.
As we walked, Amy bent down and pulled out some weeds. The way she did it was as natural as breathing. She realized I didn’t know which plants were desirable and which were despised weeds. We walked the path around the garden as she identified the good plants for me. The mess of last year’s stalks was too much for her, so she pulled out a bunch of them. Obviously, that is something I should have learned to do. I’m glad I hadn’t weeded much on my own, because there were several good plants that I would have discarded. Amy pointed out some nasty weeds, the likes of which I had dug up several weeks ago. After she left, I went right in to get the trowel to dispose of them immediately.
It wasn’t until later that I remembered sister-in-law Beth walked around our garden the first time she and Bob came to visit. She did exactly the same thing Amy did – began weeding without giving it a thought. I’m sure weeds assaulted both of these dear friends’ sensibilities. They are born gardeners, knowing almost instinctively what plants should go and which should be encouraged. I was most definitely not born with such wonderful instincts. I will learn a few of the basics, not because I want to, but because no one else will. I will become a rather lame caretaker by default, not desire. I hope my containment style of gardening will keep the area in bounds enough that I won’t be ashamed to pass it on to the next owner. Meanwhile, anyone who is a compulsive weeder is most welcome to come and stay a few weeks, free room and board provided.