There’s a certain faith in allowing things to slide. Yesterday, for instance, we ate fresh potatoes from a volunteer crop, their parents left unharvested last fall. Rotting cherry tomatoes gave birth to this year’s crop, which might mature this fall. They’ve surrounded a purple hibiscus, co-opting her flowers for their hat. Hundreds of orange poppies clash with more sophisticated pink peonies. This is not my grandparents’ garden, planned out in January and kept tame with a hoe. I won’t be pickling 150 jars of cucumbers. I might find a cucumber or two in my daily rounds. I’ll pick them and eat them right there.
In the beginning I had a semi-plan. Nothing serious. Plant things and watch them grow. Do things naturally. Wait and see what happens. Now volunteer morning glory tendrils are fingering their way up decrepit fence posts and plants I’ve never seen before have wandered into my raised beds. I never planted fennel, but somehow it’s found its way into my backyard. A catalpa tree planted itself off the back porch and now I have not only extra shade, but catalpa-tree worms for fishing. I know that friends and relatives have fun sneaking things in, like the drive-by hollyhock planting that happened a few years ago, but sometimes no one takes credit for the surprises I find. Occasionally it gets a little too crowed and I haul shovelfuls of plants out into the woods. Everything deserves a chance, after all.
I keep thinking I might someday plant a respectable garden, tend it all year, keep all the weeds down, move the poppies away from the peonies, but I’m afraid it would be a lack of faith. Besides, someday a palynologist will have a field day figuring out what was going on in my yard.