Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother of Millions

"A duck may be somebody's moooooo-ther...."

She sings as she plants. The succulent garden is beginning to come together, looking more like a garden and less like a pile of rubble. It's becoming a living sculpture, no, a chiaroscuro, of strange life forms. The rocks are carefully arranged to help hold some of the more fragile plantings and also to add color and a bit of flash to the fleshy plants. Until they bloom, some of them, their colors are mostly grayish green, dark and light, and shades of brown. The one Black Prince Echeveria balances the odd looking Mother of Millions, the Kalanchoe delagoensis, whose little floret-looking bits are all new plantlets. Once they drop off and root in, they'll need to be thinned.

Maybe they'll need to be thinned. Maybe not. She may be gone by then, and this garden, like all the others before it, left to the fierce mercies of an unfriendly world.

And the microcosm reflects the macrocosm so perfectly, she thinks. This gardener is a "mother of millions" herself, or anyway, of tens, of gardens. She's nurtured and then left them behind, as required by life forces outside her control. Sometimes it seems she's dropped her gardens onto the planet, one here, one there, another and another.... And still she makes gardens where she finds herself. Like the Kalanchoe propagating its offspring, she can't not do this.

Maybe one day she'll be able to stay and tend one of her gardens. Maybe this one.

She's heard that some places in the world, or maybe it's only in Japan, there are what are called mature gardens, gardens that have been tended by generations of gardeners. Such gardens must almost be able to speak out loud with a blend of human and wild voices. She wonders if other guerilla gardeners sometimes long for that slower, more artful pace of gardening. Will the patchwork of gardens sprinkled about the globe ever merge into one great garden?

Not likely. There'll always be ugly misbegotten toxified ground, for the likes of her to fool around with and try to make something of.

She plugs in some patches of bright green hardy moss, next to the Hens and Chicks. Fetches the hose, fills the watering can, and very carefully pours out a measure so it doesn't disturb the newly placed roots.

She's purposely left some bare ground, for adventurous seeds of local flora to find, in hopes this patch of garden will find a way to weave in with what could be part of a larger fabric. She doesn't ever know if that will work, but it's always worth a try. Maybe the spirits of lifeforce will honor her intentions in spite of flaws in her skill; maybe this garden will find a way to thrive, and spread.

The ant mound is quiescent; she's managed to avoid disturbing them today. They were here first, and so the garden is built around their hill. A lizard suns itself on one of the larger rocks. Two butterflies find a patch of moist soil, and drink there, flexing their wings.

Thinning, planting, mothering, tending; it's all made her bones ache. Time for this day to end. She arches her back and smiles at the millions, those present, those absent, those yet to be. 

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