Have you ever suffered from Garden Envy? Have you compared your own garden to others you’ve seen with better sun exposure, better drainage, a greener lawn; located in a warmer (or cooler) climate, with better soil and high fences to keep out the deer?
Years ago, we made a trip south nearly every summer to visit friends living on the Oregon coast, almost as far south as the California border. There was a small community of young families there, living in handmade houses, high above the fog line. They all grew vegetable gardens of varying size. The growing season was longer than ours (probably still is), and the summer days were hotter. Runner beans twined up teepee supports. Sunflowers stood sentinel by the fence. These people could grow canteloupes! They could grow tomatoes! Tomato seeds were “volunteering” from composted sewage sludge and healthy looking tomato plants were springing up where no tomato seed had ever been planted. The seedlings would go on to be big plants producing actual crops of tomatoes. There were enough tomatoes for canning and drying. Tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato jelly, ketchup.
On the coast of Vancouver Island, tomatoes are started in greenhouses or bought as seedlings and nurtured along tenderly, with whispered prayers for enough sunny days to provide a few tastes of real, ripe tomatoes, a completely different sensation than any store bought tomato can provide. Most store bought tomatoes don’t provide any sensation at all.
No pictures survive from that time and those Oregon gardens, except in my mind. I think I was so absorbed in the moment that I didn’t want to stop to take a photo. Come to think of it, that’s the way I feel in my own garden when I notice the daffodils and the tulips blooming and the peonies coming back; and the irises, oh the irises, they’re going to be terrific this year.