Gardening is my secret for turning winter into spring

Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

May 16, 2016

Springtime and the living is busy. Of course, the usual dusty duties demand to be dealt with.

The secret to keeping this season of rebirth joyful is to turn winter-weary eyes to the garden. That place of growth can be anything from the front flower and vegetable beds to a plot of land borrowed from a friend or a neighbour's flower pot on the window sill.

Flowers and herbs are beautiful. They fragrantly nourish the soul with their beauty and, in the case of herbs and some flowers, their taste.

One of my special flowers is the lemon marigold. This delicate flower is not like its bold, bright cousins. The foliage is lacy and the flower itself is small, light yellow and flavoured with pungent lemon. It is also elusive and I have to search many vendors before finding these favoured blooms.

As well as being the flower associated with Mother Mary, the marigold is an ideal companion plant, protecting vegetables from marauding insects.

This probably sounds fanciful, but when I was buying my house many years ago, I went through seminars covering mortgages, home inspections and many more details the future homeowner should know.

But when I came to the house I eventually bought, it was the lemon marigolds that sealed the deal. As I walked up the path to the hobbit-like shabby house, I looked down at the little scrap of a front garden. There, in all its soft yellow glory, was a circle of lemon yellow marigolds.

Marigolds are the flower most associated with the Virgin Mary.

Marigolds are the flower most associated with the Virgin Mary.

The realtor would have shuddered if he had known the deal was already sealed before I went through the door. But I am not foolish enough to ignore a heavenly sign when I see it.

Flowers are also a money-making venture for various charities. My dog Poppy's daycare, in co-ordination with a greenhouse, is selling herb and flower plants to raise funds for PAWS, the dog rescue charity.

TOMATOES AND HERBS

I ordered a mixture of tomato plants and herbs as a wedding gift. The tomato represents fruitfulness, and the perennial herbs, permanence.

Many charities use flowers as fundraisers and they have come to represent specific illnesses or conditions. Probably the most renowned are the daffodil sales to raise funds for cancer. Other flowers cover other diseases and causes.

Planning and nurturing plants can be both healing and creative for the soul.

This year I am working on the healing aspect of flowers and vegetables. I am planting lettuce.

Lettuce, to me, signifies my brother Blake Foy. I love Blake. He is my little brother. When we were growing up, every time we went out to eat, Blake's order was always the same:

"Lettuce sandwich please."

Other family members always chided him and urged him to choose something else. But he always stayed firm in his lettuce sandwich order.

It has been many, many years since I have heard from Blake. I pray to St.

Anthony regularly asking him to find Blake for me. I advertise. I pray to Mother Mary. But for whatever reason, I have not yet found him.

By planting lettuce, I am taking a tangible step, knowing that somehow my prayers will be answered, and I will hear from my little brother again.

From my words to your ears, dearest Lord.

AUNT CONNIE

Sunflowers make me think of Aunt Connie. Their huge heads follow the sun. Connie included these giant blooms in some of her evocative artwork. So the sunflowers will go in.

I shall try poppies again this year. They will be in honour of my uncle Blake. He died while flying in the Moon Squadron as it ferried spies into occupied France during the Second World War. He is buried in a French cemetery. The poppies will make his memory live for me.

My own heart delights in the face flowers - the pansies, violas and especially the johnny jump ups. Those little guys somehow find themselves in the most unlikely places. True faith.

FLAVOURING OUR IDEAS

Gardening also allows us to take our power back. We can grow some of the food we eat. The herbs enable us to flavour our foods, our ideas.

Gardens also let us reflect on the gardens of the Bible. Genesis describes the beginning of humanity with Adam and Eve going to the garden and eating the forbidden fruit.

As well, Jesus sought out the peace of the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to his Father before his crucifixion.

In a multitude of ways, gardens restore our lives and souls.

Now if I can just find my trowel . . .

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)