We had one of those spring weekends when the sun was so bright that it didn’t only shine on the grass, it shined through it. The whole lawn had a green glow.
Which made my husband sprint for his mower to cut it all down.
That glow made me want to plant something. Weed something. Buy manure. Dig.
But I’m not a big time gardener. I’m a little time gardener. I don’t want to plant enough food to keep a town in jalapenos all winter.
I just think a home isn’t a home until I can cut flowers to put on my kitchen windowsill. Until I can dash outside for basil to add to the pasta. Until I can pluck a cherry tomato on my way into the house.
When you move as much as we do in the military, that means you gotta plant the stuff you want to pick. You gotta plant it forward.
Certain things are easier than others, I think. I have a couple of giant rose bushes that bloom for six months solid. But when I try to plant another rose bush to keep them company, the newbies give up and die.
That’s why I stick with the easy stuff. Here are the things I’m already doing. What else should I try?
Basil: When we were first married, my friend Marcy was a pesto freak and had a three foot square patch of basil she grew from seed. I am not Marcy. I have no luck with basil from a seed. So I buy four or five plants per year. Typically, three survive. That’s plenty of basil, my husband thinks. I say there is no such thing.
Rosemary: Unless you live in southern California where rosemary is used as a landscaping shrub, keep your rosemary in a pot and then move it inside for the winter. It makes pork and lamb dishes divine all year.
Thyme, Oregano and Mint. Plant these herbs the first year you move into your house. They typically come back again and again. Beware the mint though. I’ve heard it will spread. Then again, you will probably move before it is a problem. So there is that.
Zinnias. These are the world’s easiest flower. That’s why Kindergarteners plant them for Mother’s Day. Take the hint. A packet of zinnias can keep you in flowers all summer long.
Zucchini, squash and pumpkins. Skip the hostas (because they only like shade anyway) and plant zucchini and squash as landscaping plants. These things grow huge green foliage without effort from you. Picking the veg also has a wonderful quality that makes you feel like you are doing something incredibly healthy and important. Pulling back a leaf to find a pumpkin makes you feel like you discovered a baby. I’m pretty sure this is how Cabbage Patch kids were discovered.
Daffodils. You cannot mess up a daffodil. And they can’t be eaten by deer or squirrels because they are poisonous. So don’t just plant a dozen. Plant a hundred the autumn you move into a house. Plant two hundred and amaze yourself the next spring right at the moment you are ready to move back to your new duty station.
Hydrangea. When we moved to Norfolk after leaving Japan, we moved into a house that had a giant Nikko Blue hydrangea blooming in the backyard. I had flowers on my dining room table when my dining room was full of boxes.
Ever since then I have noticed hydrangeas blooming in military housing all over the world. I wonder if that flower is the one we military spouses give each other, planting it forward as a message of hope and home for the next family to enjoy.