My Garden Path


If you know me, I mean if you really have more than a ten minute conversation with me, then you’ll know that I love plants.

Perhaps, you might have noticed from my Facebook posts. Or you may have noticed how excited I get when I talk about my garden or certain plants.

When fall arrives, I enter an odd mental state. At this time of year the garden has become a jungle. Sunflowers are turning gray and brittle, allowing more light to shine on the tangled vines of rogue morning glories. Further into the once lush vegetation are dried up pods of seeds and old coriander from mid summer. The most vivid greens come from the nasturtiums who have exceeded my expectations. Reds and bright oranges draw my eyes to the mounding round leaves.

There is so much going on in just one patch, that I become immediately overwhelmed. I lose interest because I know my beloved friends are going away. Some go away forever, some leave seeds behind, and some just go to sleep. Regardless of how or where they go, it’s difficult to think of a gray and barren garden bed when so many other good things dwindle.

All those hours of sunshine and warmth seem to migrate south with the monarchs, too.

Few things can make me feel as good as spending time in a garden. Looking after houseplants in the winter is simply not the same.

Gardening became an important part of my life in fifth grade.

I wasn’t an outdoorsy kid, and by outdoors I mean the front or backyard, as those were the most frequent and accessible forms of the outdoors for me.

There were few times that I spent entire afternoons kicking a ball with neighbors or riding a bike around the neighborhood. I just didn’t have that interest as a child.

My affair with plants started with houseplants and the advent of our first home laptop. Leading up to that, I had begged my parents for a dog every year for my birthday. Even as a child who adored watching the Animal Planet and the National Geographic, I felt like a dog would somehow bring me closer to my love for nature.

Although I did not find the outdoors of my front-yard appealing, I loved the romantic landscapes filmed on Nat’Geo documentaries. Ever since the fourth grade I had told my teacher that some day I wanted to live in Africa to study elephants and lions.

It was that wildness and open landscape that beckoned me. Since I didn’t get my wish for a dog, I filled that void as best as I could, with plants!

The pothos plant, is the one that started it all, for sometime my mother had kept one. I would call this houseplant a staple of any Mexican household, indiscriminate of gardening experience. Amateurs to serious indoor jungle botanists have one pothos … or 50,000.

These simple creatures can transform any home into a jungle with the right care, or negligence.

Anyway, it was thanks to the pothos, that I had a kind of gateway to gardening. Having our first computer then, is what catalyzed my eagerness to learn about plants, their care, and life cycles into action. As soon as I learned something new about plants I wanted to try it.

Researching new plants and trialing new gardening techniques such as propagation and growing plants from seed kept my curious mind busy. I spent entire afternoons scrolling through gardening websites and garden online forums.

The garden forums were the best, because you’d just know that someone’s grandma would ask the same questions that I had about propagating roses! It turns out, that there is a method of rose propagation that involves sticking a rose stem into a whole potato!

Gardening became addicting but also has curative properties. More than anything in my case, it stimulated my curiosity for the natural world.

It wasn’t until high school that I became acquainted with an ecological perspective of gardens, human landscapes, and other native species. In college my goal became to diversify the ornamental garden patches with native plants. The beds that I cultivate to grow food crops are now fertile with resistance, since I help save the seeds of endangered heirloom varieties that have nurtured entire past generations. The unkempt lawn, is now a more diversified permaculture site, that provides dandelion nectar and pollen to hungry bees early in the spring.

My history with my garden is not extraordinary nor romantic. It’s personal and unique to me, just like this year’s garden is not the same as last year’s.

Each garden is ripe with its own mix of crops and flowers. It’s difficult to say goodbye to this year’s garden, but way must be made for next year’s.

José Chiquito