Mountain Gardening

August 6, 2012


The last day before leaving Kansas, my green-thumbed sister Susan noticed me looking longingly around our mother’ s garden—taking in my last looks before returning to Oregon. She was tidying up leaves, deadheading spent flowers.

In front of us was a giant flowering Rose of Sharon in full bloom. “Dad planted that twenty years ago,” she said knowingly. In one swift movement, she reached down and pulled up a rooting. “Here, take this home.” It was healthy, woody start with eight-inch roots. I carefully wrapped the cutting in damp paper towels and placed it in a plastic bag inside my suitcase and imagined the lavender bloom against my house in Oregon.

We landed in Redmond to a rainy 52 degrees. It would be tough. The growing season in the mountains is six weeks and snow comes early, but I had to try. Even before unpacking, I filled a pot with rich soil and gently nestled the root tips down into the well of soil mixed with compost.

I thought of Dad, all those years ago, coming home bone-tired from his long day of work as a carpenter, finding the best spot in the garden for what would be that beautiful little tree in Kansas. Reading his Bible. Making two trips in his truck to get our family of ten to church when the car broke down one spring.

Family picture

Mountain gardening requires extra steps and faith. Adding amendments to break up the hard clay. A layer of mulch. This winter, I’ll take all the precautionary steps, cover the rooting with plastic, and cautiously hope to see if what we’ve planted will grow, love in our blended family and the treble bloom on the south wall of my garden next spring.

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